June 9, 2020
Also known as Freedom Day, the Black Fourth of July, 1865 serves as the Emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans. A celebration that continues to grow across the nation. Recognized in 46 of the 50 United States as a state holiday or day of observance, Juneteenth commemorates freedom. Troubling but true, slaves had already been emancipated in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, they just didn’t know it.
Texas continued to enslave, murder by lynching, and oppress African Americans because they did not want slavery to end and viewed slaves as their property. Texas is also the state where Juneteenth was born and one of the first states to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. With an emphasis on education and achievement, it is a time for reflection and rejoicing, assessment, and self-improvement. The Juneteenth flag symbolizes the sales and their descendants to be Americans echoing the American flag in red, white, and blue. The middle star pays homage to Texas, the “new star” bursting on the horizon of the red and blue represent a “new” freedom and a “new” people.
A new freedom and a new people, Juneteenth is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery. But what does it mean to be free? Freedom is defined as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Reflection on the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation to the 1865 Emancipation Acknowledgement in Texas led me to wonder why diversity continues to plague our nation as if this freedom was not 155 years ago. We continue to struggle for true freedom to shine through its definition.
Freedom is not really free when African Americans are gun down while jogging. Freedom is not really free when white police are not held accountable for black death at their hands (or knee). Freedom is not really free when young black males can wear a hoodie and get gun down because they look “threatening.” Freedom is not really free when educated black women are looked over for positions to hire under-qualified, uneducated white males instead. Freedom is not really free when every black family must create a training course on police brutality, teach it to perfection to their black children out of fear they may be stopped because they are “driving while black” “walking while black” or “just because they are black.” Freedom is not really free. Diversity, equality, independence, equality, inclusion…equality…is when we will be free.