Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Juneteenth!

I almost forgot: Happy Juneteenth!

For those of you who don't know, Juneteenth commemorates the day in which Union General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the slaves were free in the state of Texas. It was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, but Juneteenth generally commemorates the day in which all southern slaves were freed.

Juneteenth is symbolic of what I hope America can be. Not a country that denies its sins, but one that overcomes them. One cannot celebrate Juneteenth without remembering that we are celebrating the freedom of those we enslaved. But it is justly a celebration--a celebration of a shining moment when we could see beyond the clouds of racial hostility and oppression and, if only briefly, join hands to act as our brother and sister's keeper. I only wish it was more prevalent (I had only first heard about it last year).

Blogospheric roundup:

Kimberly Michelle explains the modern-day import of Juneteenth:
Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.

Ward Smythe:
Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities - as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.

Beautiful, Also, Are The Souls of My Black Sisters

Facing South



And finally, here is the conclusion from an American Heritage essay:
In a famous public address delivered nine years before the Civil War, Frederick Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your fourth of July?” It was a question that lingered for well over a century after emancipation. For black Americans living through Jim Crow, Juneteenth was the closest approximation of a true Independence Day. Each year they gathered in churches throughout the South and sang, “Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel?/ Then why not every man?”

Enjoy the festivities, if you have them--otherwise, create some of your own!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Juneteenth is America’s 2nd Independence Day officially recognized by Congress and 26 states as a state holiday or state holiday observance.

Together we will see Juneteenth become a National Holiday in America.

Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)