Juneteenth has gone by way of fairly a metamorphosis lately.
Often known as Freedom Day or Black Independence Day, Juneteenth is the bittersweet commemoration of June 19, 1865, when phrase of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached the deepest elements of the fallen Confederacy — almost two years after slavery had officialy ended. A trigger for celebration, for certain, however tinged with the frustration that it took two further years for this information to succeed in Galveston, Texas, and a number of other extra months till the Thirteenth Modification was handed to formally abolish slavery.
For the subsequent 156 years, the enjoyment and ache of this second would dwell on principally by way of celebrations throughout elements of the South, by way of the oral histories handed down inside the Black group, and in a number of traces of description in some highschool historical past textbooks. In lots of locations, this piece of historical past has been absent; I solely began studying these tales as an grownup, inside the previous decade.
Juneteenth entered the nationwide dialog in 2020 amidst the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many different harmless Black People — one other parallel second of nationwide shame during which Black justice was deferred. Inside a yr, most corporations have been planning to provide their staff the time without work, even earlier than President Biden declared it a federal vacation. And already this yr, we’ve seen a number of nationwide manufacturers launch Juneteenth-themed merchandise, solely to recall these objects for being inappropriate and insensitive to the deeper that means of at the present time.
No doubt, Juneteenth is a celebration of Black freedom, pleasure, and perseverance. But it’s additionally a reminder that these freedoms are laborious received, the enjoyment is fragile, and the perseverance stays within the face of recent techniques of oppression that proceed our nation’s battle in opposition to White supremacy.
One option to ship on the promise of Juneteenth is to make sure that our college students be taught that Black historical past is American historical past. At this time, at DonorsChoose, we rejoice the academics who deliver these tales and extra to their lecture rooms, educating all of their college students an entire historical past of our nation’s defining victories and darkest hours, and serving to their Black college students see themselves on the planet. We additionally stand with the academics who danger their careers and livelihoods to place these tales on their classroom bookshelves.
Solely when our college students can face the ugly fact of our nation’s historical past with racism, will they be capable to chart a greater manner ahead and eventually ship on the desires and freedoms of these celebrating the primary Juneteenth 157 years in the past.