On June 19, 1865, the final vestige of chattel slavery in America succumbed to the changes that were sweeping the nation. It should not be loss that for 256 years, black people endured unparalleled hardship fueled by hatred. There was no safety on American soil. When General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom to the slaves in Texas, it was the enforcement of our human rights that mattered. America has always possessed an ambivalence towards enforcing the rights of Black Americans. Every constitutional right required battle after battle after battle because the nation lacked the will to enforce both policy and promises that secured the freedoms and potential for prosperity.
Juneteenth marked the end of one struggle and the beginning of another. This struggle continues as Florida, Georgia, and Texas ratifies voter suppression laws. The struggle continues as the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest protestant organization, sends delegates to Nashville in record numbers to sustain the racially divisive legacy of their beloved President Trump. Governors, senators, and members of congress champion school choice agendas rather than repairing and providing resources to underfunded neighborhoods.
Juneteenth is a reminder that the fight is not over. Racial injustice is always present in America. The Emancipation Proclamation and the thirteenth amendment did not signal victory as much as they signaled the possibility of victory. Victories, both large and small call us to celebrate and to continue. Continue to pray for the safety of our children. Continue to vote for freedom. Continue to stack both diplomas and dollars. Continue, when it is darkest, to trust God, who is on our side. Happy Juneteenth.