Updated: Jul 23
President Biden really tried it with making Juneteenth, African American Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day a federal holiday and I know many of us are feeling some type of way. It was Malcolm X who said, “The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories rather than economic equity and real justice.” Let that sit for a moment…
The significance of June 19, 1865 has been celebrated by Black folks since 1866. It’s always been our holiday to commemorate the official end of slavery. It started in Texas because that’s where the announcement was made by Major General Gordon Granger (damn near three years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln):
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, “all slaves are free.” This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.
The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
Legends say that it took so long to reach Texas because plantation owners didn’t want to share the information for fear of losing their slaves during cotton picking season. There’s also reason to believe that the original messenger was killed before reaching his destination. We for sure know that a number of newly freed slaves were killed while trying to flee after receiving news of the abolishment. Where can I get a list of those convicted of breaking the law during this time? I’ll wait…
It’s mighty funny (not haha) that they don’t want to talk about slavery in schools; that they’re trying their damndest to take away our voting rights; that they continue to back racist police; that they still refuse to address racial inequalities and all of the unresolved systemic issues that we face on a daily. I’m sorry, how you skip over everything else, sweep it under the rug, say shhh don’t talk about it and eventually they’ll get over it, to finally acknowledging us almost 60 years later? Because if we’re really being honest, don’t nobody care about us but us! Most people outside our race will only chop it up as to being just another day off.
How about you give us back the land white America stole from our families, or simply afford us the same opportunities given to these colonizers. Why are we still dealing with predatory lending in our communities? Is now a good time to address prison reform? Where are we in the divided color lines or the achievement gap among Black students? I don’t know about ya’ll but we talk about this in our household and I do mean real conversations with our children who are now young adults with their own strong opinions.
My eldest daughter tweeted: Juneteenth should only be a holiday for the Black folx. The rest of y’all still need to go to work. Seems only fair.
My other daughter said, “It’s about time, I guess. It is what it is but don’t expect much in America.”
My son feels that Juneteenth should remain a “holiday that is only exclusive to our people” because others won’t get the significance of why we celebrate this day.
When asked how he feels about Juneteenth becoming a national holiday my husband shared: It seems backwards without change or progress. They may throw a bone every now and then (white folks). The true representation of how whites feel got voted out last term. Joe jellybeans think he doing something - just another face pushing propaganda without being malicious on the surface!
For me, Juneteenth has always been a giant family reunion. A sea of Black folks laughing, dancing, loving on each other because we’re still here in spite of everything we endure. The parades, festivals, cookouts, etc. - this is how we educated skinfolk about our history, exclusively. It’s one thing to genuinely care and recognize how wrong we’ve been treated in this country, but it’s entirely something else to be victimized and I’m afraid this is how we’ll be viewed because they just don’t get it. Thanks for the holiday that our people were already taking anyway, but y’all still ain’t invited - DEUCES!
photo courtesy of Freepik