Reflecting on Juneteenth

Reflecting on Juneteenth

written by Mr. Tommy Ferguson

Tommy Ferguson

Today, Sunday, June 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth! Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year on June 16, 2021, when the US Congress passed legislation making Juneteenth a national holiday. This legislation was then signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17th.

For many African Americans, June 19th, 1865, is seen as our real Independence Day. On June 19th, 1865, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation said, “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free,” finally reached the state of Texas.

Instead of allowing Juneteenth to become another holiday where we wish each other a “Happy Juneteenth” or sell red, black, and green plates, flags, and other trinkets, maybe today is a good day to reflect on what it means to be truly free and to think about how to create a world where we are compassionate and care for one another. Maybe today is a good day to address the systemic inequalities in our country. Our world is in crisis. Our communities are suffering. In the last few weeks, we have seen the Uvalde School shooting massacre, the unprovoked racially motivated killing of 10 people in Buffalo, New York, gas prices that have reached unprecedented levels, and we are still in a global pandemic. As Marvin Gaye’s lyrics remind us….” There’s too many of you crying…There’s far too many of you dying. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today.”

So as we celebrate Juneteenth today and every day, let us not forget the price our ancestors paid for their bodies and lives. Freedom is costly, and many of our brothers and sisters are still paying a heavy price.

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