Juneteenth has been elevated as a national holiday to serve as a moment to honor and celebrate Black excellence while continuing discussion and action on remaining challenges and issues regarding racial justice.
The Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to mean freedom, but were the previously enslaved really free if they had nowhere to go and no place to accept them?
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. In Texas, even after the war ended, “freed men” were told they had to stay at their slave owner’s property and keep working. The slave owners promised that they would get paid as long as they were not idle. The “freed” men were also told they wouldn’t be hired anywhere else, not even by the military. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me, which is why Juneteenth is so important.
Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth” by the newly freed people in Texas.
This day serves as a reminder and provides Americans with the opportunity to reflect on and wrestle with the history and legacy of this country.
Special Virtual Juneteenth Event
Today, June 19 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST, Civics Unplugged will be diving into conversation with Alyssa Rambert, Khloe Thompson, and Valerie Jarrett to talk about how you specifically can get involved in the fight for racial justice both at the government level and in your own community.
Civics Unplugged is powered by a global community of young leaders who have graduated from the CU Fellowship and are working together to grow as leaders and strengthen democracy.
The special Juneteenth event is part of the 4th annual National Week of Conversation. This week’s conversation invites Americans to practice “Courage over Contempt” by having conversations despite differences in bold and energizing ways. NWOC events will be hosted by more than 100 partners from the #ListenFirst Coalition and anyone else who would like to host a conversation.
4 Key Principles of a Listen First Conversation
- Listen first to understand
- Be curious and open to learning
- Suspend judgment and extend grace
- Maximize diversity of perspectives
Onward and upward
Juneteenth might now be a nationally observed holiday, but that doesn’t mean a box has been checked off that somehow makes things “A-okay.”
We need to ensure that our children are properly educated about history and not glorify white American history. Our state governments across the country need to turn their attention to the numerous reparations bills currently being considered in congress. We still need to ensure equitable voting rights by expanding voter access to the ballot box.
A poem for the day
Often I find myself pulling out poetry from Maya Angelou, because I respect her so much even though she has left this Earth. Today I read through “Still I Rise” for maybe the 74th time. It’s such a powerful piece and perfect for Freedom Day.