For a lot of Texans (and Americans) what they think we are celebrating today, Juneteenth-Freedom Day-is simply a Black history event. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what we are commemorating and celebrating is a vital piece of American history and another reaffirmation of our nation’s highest ideals and fundamental values; the principals of Freedom, Liberty and Justice.
General Gordon Granger’s announcement, in Galveston on June 19, 1865, was a statement of Freedom, Liberty and Justice. For Black Texans, it was a reassertion of the ideals of The Declaration of Independence that we are all created equal, by our Creator, and have a God-given set of rights that no government or individual should be allowed to take from any of us.
Juneteenth is a reminder that we must never give up no matter how tough or trying the times.
This year, it is especially important that we all speak up for telling the truth about our state’s (and nation’s) history and its ongoing impact as far as too many Republicans, in Texas and all across our country, are now engaged in an all-out assault on teaching the truth about racism, in our nation.
During the past five years, Republicans have moved from the delusional deception of alternative facts and their embracing of the “Big Lie” about the 2020 presidential election to now trying to suppress knowledge and forcing upon our nation the world that George Orwell warned us of in his book 1984.
Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Women’s History Month all exist because for too long the true facts about these Americans and our communities have been excluded and ignored in the teaching, telling, and selling of the American story. We have come too far, as a nation, since 1865 to go back to being late with the truth. E Pluribus Unum does not work if the truth, suffering, sacrifice, and contributions of the “many” are not openly and honestly acknowledged but are instead consciously and intentionally denied. Only the truth will truly set our nation free. “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.”
Celebrating Juneteenth is a celebration of The Declaration of Independence and what it stands for. We are all! created equal and have a God-given right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As the Founding Fathers expressed in The Declaration and the original colonies ratified with the Bill of Rights: as human beings, we are entitled to a criminal justice system that is just, not arbitrary and biased.
In The Declaration, the Founders also made it absolutely clear that “just power” comes “from the consent of the governed….” They specifically explained that the King wanted some of the colonists to “relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.” The way the “governed” express our “consent”, in America, is through our right to vote at the ballot box. Suppressing the right to vote of Americans is an act of tyranny.
If you don’t get it, go read The Declaration of Independence from beginning to end. The right to vote and equal justice under the law is sacrosanct even though it took a Civil War, multiple amendments to our federal Constitution along with the United States Supreme Court decisions, and the Civil Rights Movement to bring us to where we should have truly started from.
Today, the reality is that we are once again engaged in a battle for the future of our nation. The consensus that once prevailed that we were all on the same basic path towards “a more perfect Union” is no longer true. The Republican Party is now no longer a partner in pursuit of “a more perfect Union.” Republicans are afraid of the future. They are no longer the party of Lincoln and reconstruction and reconciliation. Republicans are now the party of Trump, social division, voter suppression, and denial of scientific and historic truth.
Democrats must be the party that modernizes our criminal justice system to better keep Americans safe while eliminating the racial inequality now existing in our system.
Democrats need to pass into law immediately a restored and modernized Voting Rights Act to help protect against state voter suppression laws and racial gerrymandering masquerading as extreme partisan gerrymandering.
America needs a new Digital Bill of Rights to protect our data and allow us to control and benefit from the monetization of our data as well as to protect our genomic and health information gathered and stored online by our fitness devices to prevent continuing race-based health disparities.
No person ever knows all that is coming but we must never fear the future. We must be resilient and never give up no matter the odds or the opponent. For America, Juneteenth must be a lesson we learn from for a lifetime.