“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.”
— Barack Obama
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, serves as a day to reflect on the journey to freedom for Black people in America. As Washington State, along with the rest of the United States of America, seeks to celebrate Juneteenth, the black community reflects on our history and the significance of Juneteenth in this country. Many Americans are unaware that enslavement of our people did not end once the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It ended two years later in 1865, when more than 2,000 troops arrived in Galveston Bay Texas to enforce the freedom that belonged to black people. The impact of delayed action from a promise that was given and not fulfilled for 2 years is an all too familiar feeling.
Post-emancipation, known as Reconstruction was an era consistently references as a period great hope yet struggle, and uncertainty for Black people in America. As the reality of black people being free started to settle in, we saw racism and oppression show up in a new form. Even though black people were no longer enslaved, they were faced with issues of Black Codes and Jim Crow, known as strict laws on how to treat black people. They were put in place to deprive and strip the fundamental rights and economic growth for the Black community. In addition to the corrupt laws in place, Black people were victims of horrendous acts by white supremacy believers, whose sole purpose was to terrorize the newly freed Black people anybody or entity that supported them.
America has made progress, where the Black people are concerned but we as whole still suffer from the evil that America was built upon. It is systemic and must be purged.
Juneteenth is not just a moment in American history, where we only celebrate the freedom for black people. It serves as a reminder of resilience and the determination that black people continuously show. We’ve overcome, we’ve endured, we do not break. However, we deserve rest, comfort, and peace. This is a moment in history, that highlights the long journey we have traveled. A moment in history, where our community can revive their hope and strength to build a better future for not only ourselves, but those that come after. So, let us not just a celebrate on Juneteenth, let us be inspired to act and commit to the effort of establishing a world where equality and inclusion does exist.
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