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Juneteenth

Don Wyeth

Juneteenth

Columns
2 mins
June 29, 2021

On December 6, 1865 the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, making slavery illegal. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is a celebration commemorating slavery’s abolition. “On June 19, 1865, a Union General rode into Galveston, Texas, [along with Federal troops] to announce that the Civil War had ended, and slaves had been freed.bobbyberk.com. The troops were placed in Texas to ensure that this legislation was carried out. This occurred 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

The celebration of this holiday is marked by dancing and singing, concerts, and a picnic feast. A toast is made at the commencement of the festivities with red soda, which is designated as the official beverage of the Black cookout. The cuisine includes favorites like barbecued cherry glazed ribs, red velvet cake and watermelon salad.

And what is a celebration without a flag?  A vibrant, colorful flag has been created (see photo) to commemorate Juneteenth, featuring a starburst on the horizon, representing “… new freedom, a new people, new star. The red, white and blue colors communicate that the American slaves, and their descendants were all Americans. goodhousekeeping.com

On June 15 of this year, The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The United States House of Representatives quickly passed the resolution into law. “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement, ‘…but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.’ npr.org

However, some Republican legislators, spurred by the passage of this legislation, have reacted to academic appeals for further examining “…the lens through which race has molded public life, especially in the areas of economics and the justice system…They claim that this point of view exaggerates racism, as foundational to American society, and that it poses an unfair criticism of white people.” But no facts have been offered up to substantiate the claim.

In a recent NPR program the following comment was made: “Republican legislation to limit teaching a historically accurate picture of U.S. history in public institutions has advanced in some half a dozen states. Teachers have warned that these efforts limit their ability to engage critically with their students at a time when much of the national conversation revolves around issues stemming from race.

This columnist feels that the Juneteenth holiday is for all Americans. It clearly states in the foundational documents of our country that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We need to guard this precious gift for everyone's sake.


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Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.

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