Freedom and equality. These are two words that are nice to hear but haven’t been the easiest things for black people to obtain; they have mostly been a conceptual idea for black people. We owe thanks to Juneteenth for making these two words actualy obtainable things. Juneteenth ushered the movement for these two words to be something that black folk could actually take a hold of in reality and not just be a concept.
Here’s a little history lesson: The Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863 declaring that slaves were free. Not really, we are taught this, but not all slaves were free. It was really on slaves in the North that were free at this time; it wasn’t until after the Civil War (two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed) when Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed in Texas to announce the war was finally over and ALL slaves were free. This happened on June 19, 1865. Celebrations were in full force because blacks were finally free… or so we thought. Fast-forward a few years to Jim Crow which resulted in many deaths and segregation of black folk and you’ll notice that we were still enslaved to white man; our actions had to beckon to their liking. Thanks to many great Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we no longer have to deal with Jim Crow laws… or do we?
Despite Juneteenth and the Civil Rights Movement, it doesn’t take much to recognize that racism is still running rapid in America today. No matter your personality or life status, as black people we have to shape our actions to fit white people so we don’t get shot. If you think about it, it seems like Jim Crow is coming back. We can’t enjoy life without having to look over our shoulders. Even as a young black man pursing a degree in ministry, I myself still fear what could possibly happen to me just because I’m black. (I won’t get on my soapbox this time.)
So, why is Juneteenth so important? Juneteenth is so important because without it, there would have never been a Civil Rights Movement and we would be free today, but most of all… we would have never been free from being slaves. Why should we celebrate Juneteenth more often? I didn’t know about Juneteenth until a few years ago, I remind you that I’m 19 and BLACK. Unfortunately, Juneteenth is not well known among people. For this reason along with the fact that it ushered in the ability for black people to actually be free, is why we should celebrate Juneteenth more often. I know that I’ll celebrate it more often.