Today’s blog will emerge on Juneteenth, and this is the first year that this day, a day we celebrate the sweet taste of freedom, will be honored as a federal holiday. Juneteenth derives its name from combining June and nineteenth, it is celebrated on the anniversary of the order by Major General Gordon Granger proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. This was a full 2.5 years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Today, June 19th Juneteenth, we commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, and there’s something in this day for everyone, of any race or background, to celebrate!
For me, as an OWL (Old White Lady), I’m struck by the opportunity to celebrate the idea of new discovery, new information and fresh understanding – something anyone can recognize as golden opportunity in life. For the enslaved remnant in Galveston, Texas who learned so late of their freedom, it was a day of jubilation, naturally a moment of relief, of realization that their lives had changed forever.
- Their journey, from enslaved to fully free – a journey many have not completed.
- Their joy upon learning that the long-awaited release from bondage had come.
- Their knowledge that future generations might know a different path, one with new opportunities and the movement toward genuine agency.
Greg Carr, an associate professor of Africana Studies at Howard University, reminds us that, “Juneteenth celebrations are a chance for this country, for the United States to rethink not only its origins, but the relationship of everybody who lives in this country to each other,” he goes on to suggest, “In many ways, Juneteenth symbolically becomes a litmus test for the possibilities of this country.”
For the remaining enslaved people of Galveston, back in 1865, the announcement of freedom must have seemed all but impossible. The news of freedom must have awakened in them a sense of incredulousness – could this really be true? We’re Free!?!?
What possibilities does your reflection on this day awaken in you? Might there be new and fresh opportunities for diversity in your future? Might your friendships grow and deepen because you discover a new appreciation for the being authentic with others, different from yourself? Might you envision yourself reaching out to learn more, reaching within to understand in new ways, or bridging a gap between neighbors or strangers that might otherwise seem too distant to connect?
Juneteenth can remind us that we’re ALL free from the tyranny of slavery. We’re all free to think in new ways, to explore fresh possibilities, to set aside the rules of the past and the stereotypes that constrict our imagination. We’re invited on this day to encounter others, seeing them as more alike than differentfrom ourselves, and to imagine a world in which our freedom empowers us to build something new, something better, something inclusive and exciting, unlike ever before.
Wishing you a Joyous Juneteenth!