Hope this serves as the first salutation for many — Happy Juneteenth.
The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday, June 16 to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
The June 19 holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. Already celebrated as a state or ceremonial holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia, a President Biden signature will make Juneteenth the country's 11th federal holiday.
While celebrations remain significant here, for the sake of history let’s stop this ridiculous charade.
First, a popular children’s game called “telephone” or “whisper down the lane”, involves players in a line or circle.
The first player whispers a message to an adjacent participant who then repeats the message to the third player, and so on.
When the last player is reached, they announce the message they heard to the entire group. The first person then compares the original message with the final version. While the objective is to pass around the message accurately, errors develop during transmissions.
That’s what has happened with Juneteenth and this nonsense that U.S. slavery ended on that day in June 1865 when news reached slaves in Galveston, TX that they were free — actually they had been free since President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.
The Proclamation addressed “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State . . . in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
Even after the Juneteenth event, slavery still existed in the so-called “border states” of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware.
Whisper this down the lane. In January 1863, President Lincoln offers Emancipation Proclamation; Confederate Army surrenders in April 1865; Juneteenth occurs in Texas in June 1865; and U.S. ratifies 13th Amendment in December 1865.
The 13th Amendment ended slavery not anything that occurred in June 19th. We should be partying in December although summer offers better temperatures for parades, dancing and barbecues.
The Amendment reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
See that distinction? Slavery continued as a matter of punishment. One could debate accurately that fragments of slavery continue today.
Juneteenth? More symbolism in a nation where millions of Blacks remain chained by poverty, disproportionately maligned by struggle, demoralized by inequality; while 11 million Hispanics live in shadows and suffer positional prejudice; while hatred continues for Jews and ramps for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
None of us will really enjoy freedom until our nation exchanges prejudice and hatred for peace, love and understanding.