Juneteenth commemorates the U.S. Army’s announcement of the enforcement of the end of slavery in Texas (and therefore the United States) in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.
In 2021, Juneteenth is Saturday, June 19, 2021. This is the first Juneteenth that is an official New York City holiday.
We can be a much better country by Juneteenth 2021, but we all have to work together on this.
The United States was Late in Ending Slavery
Slavery is the original sin of the United States. The legacy of slavery continues to devil us because we don’t talk about it or accept our communal responsibility.
- The U.S. Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 inspired great social changes around the world, but did not end slavery in the United States.
- Revolutionary France abolished slavery in 1794, although it came back in the French colonies.
- Haiti, and what is now the Dominican Republic, ended slavery in the French Empire through a successful slave revolt and independence in 1804.
- The British Empire officially ended the slave trade in most of the British Empire in 1807.
- The Spanish Empire officially ended slavery in 1820.
- The British Empire officially abolished slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
- The United States officially abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. Slavery continued in the Confederate States.
- Slavery in the United States should have ended when the Confederacy surrendered on April 9, 1863, or on May 9, 1865 with the official end of the War, but slavery continued in Texas.
What is now the U.S. Army sent troops to occupy Texas. Troops landed on Galveston Island on June 18, 1865. The next day, June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Texas, and the U.S. Army was there to enforce it.
The next year on June 19, 1866, the first Juneteenth celebration was held in Galveston, Texas.
Almost one hundred years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should have ended racial discrimination, but it didn’t.
The Legacy of Human Enslavement Haunts the United States
You can’t change the past, but you can change how you relate to it. That in itself changes the future.
For some reason, we Americans of the United States don’t talk about our legacy of slavery and continue to violate the human rights of people of color.
The richness and vitality of our entire culture is diminished, not only as a matter of pride or shame, but economically as well. It’s really hard to achieve your potential when people keep assaulting you in endless ways, both minor and important, just because of the color of your skin, your heritage, accent or last name.
At least one third of Americans of the United States are people of color. No country can succeed in global competition while keeping one-third of its people down.
More than 150 years (12 generations) after the end of the Civil War, the legacy of slavery still devils us. Over 50 years after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the legacy of slavery still devils us.
Lately, we have a U.S. President who won office through various forms of race-baiting. By the way, family separation is something that slavers do. Are those of you who work for Homeland Security and ICE proud of yourselves for doing slaver’s work?
We have made a lot of progress, but it is still shameful that we have not progressed more than we have. Now we know better.
It’s 2019. Let’s talk about our legacy of slavery in the United States. Let’s work together to end racial and cultural discrimination.
When we make this right for all Americans; regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin; our society is going to rise like you can’t imagine because we will all be working together on a common future.
Above is what we wrote last year when nobody except the people of Galveston, Texas seemed to care about Juneteenth. In 2020 Black Lives Matter made everyone pay attention. It’s about time.
Juneteenth is an expression of the African-American community’s grace. African-American commemorations like Juneteenth began as simple, genuine expressions of gratitude that somebody cared. Even Memorial Day has some of this quality of African-American gratitude for lives given in the fight for freedom.
No other community has suffered so much, yet contributed so much to building our country. The community’s anger at injustice is memorable, but the community’s grace far exceeds it.
Anger and violence will eventually be met with more anger and violence, but grace gives us a way forward. June 19, 2020 may be about 401 years late, but today is as good a day to start living in grace as any other day.
Thank you Black Lives Matter for giving us an opening. Gracias.
In 2020, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared Juneteenth to be a New York City holiday. Thank you Mayor De Blasio and thank you Black Lives Matter.