It has been one hundred and fifty-six years since Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and announced that all persons being held in an oppressive system known as slavery, were free. It was a day for rejoicing and that festivity has lasted all those years. It was on Friday, June 18, 2021, that President Joe Biden signed legislation passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and designated Juneteenth as a national holiday.
It does not appear, however, that Black America in 2021 is showing the same joyous rejoicing as our ancestors did. There seems to be more reluctance to place a great deal of emphasis on the symbolism associated with a holiday. That probably is due to the failure of this country, over that one hundred and fifty-six years, to live up to the meaning behind freedom. Despite what many might view as great progress for the race, there is just as much pessimism regarding that progress. Black people are not looking any longer for symbolic examples, but more concrete facts and when we examine those facts it looks rather dismal.
Soon after that joyous announcement on June 19, 1865, the ugly face of white racism exploded all over the South, first with the Black Codes and later with Jim Crow Laws. For those Blacks who refused to succumb to the vicious laws, they were lynched, and our women were raped. Immediately following that announcement in Galveston, Texas for the next twelve years, more than 2,000 Blacks were lynched. According to the Tuskegee Institute from 1876 to 1998, 3,446 Blacks were lynched. So much for freedom in America.
Even though lynching has waned in this country, the police departments have taken over. Since 2000 there have 22 shootings that resulted in death of unarmed Black men in this country. All toll, 181 Black men have been killed by the police since the execution on the street of George Floyd in 2020. One of the most disgusting acts of police brutality was the shooting of young Brionna Taylor while sleeping in her bed in Louisville, Kentucky, and no charges were brought against those racist cops.
My position is not that anything good has happened in those one-hundred-fifty-six years. There has been some progress with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ultimately led to the election of the first Black President. But now we are confronted with an attack on the passage of those acts. The response to the election of President Barack Obama, was the election of a racist president, the Impeached Donald Trump.
The backlash has been overwhelming. The white racist occupying state legislatures are busy passing laws, to make it difficult for Blacks and other minorities to vote. The congress passes a law designating Juneteenth a national holiday, marking the freedom of Blacks in this country but will not pass laws to protect their right to vote. Many states are passing laws prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the schools. They want to continue the conspiracy of silence regarding the unfiltered history, such as they did with Black Wall Street and the hate that destroyed it on June 1, 1921. They will do nothing to improve the equal rights of Blacks, (something Abraham Lincoln failed to consider) and freedom without equality is not freedom at all. We can only hold out hope that the next one hundred and fifty-six years from June 19. 2021, will prove much more successful and finally achieve absolute political and economic equality, for all the people of this country. Then and only then will Major General Granger’s landing in Galveston, Texas begins to represent real significant and not just symbolic achievement.
3 thoughts on “Juneteenth from 1865 to 2021”
Glad to see this! I had not seen a post from you for a long time. I was very happy to see this. I’ve had a hard time explaining to people why this should not be a time for partying but reflection and change. We cannot equate freedom to equality/equity, yet, and as it goes, we may continue to see a backward movement as voting and other rights are legislated away. Please keep writing!
Fred”A comment has been addressed to you regarding collected art pieces and documents related to the Juneteenth occasions. However, my password is lost to memory, therefore I am unable to forwardit to you. One day I’ll learn the rules of the game.Jerelyne Williams
I have always had a problem with the term “Juneteenth” – when I say Juneteenth I get images of a certain type of Black person. An illiterate Black person. As though it is meant to signify Black people sittin’ on the porch, no shoes, tattered clothes, pickin’ a guitar. An unsophisticated Black person. Juneteenth is a nickname for June 19th. Why not call it June 19th. Or Emancipation Day or Day of Liberty. Juneteenth seems to belittle the day somehow. I think it needs to at least sound more glorious, because for the life of me I can’t see how those who were still in slavery on that day immediately started celebrating with a bar-b-q the way some of us do today. This latest Juneteenth legislation has not impressed me.