Taken from NJ.com
By Bob Davis, Secretary, Local 5091
June 19, 2022
For me, Juneteenth is a day of reflection, and this is what I reflect on.
When Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to begin fully enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation, the law granting enslaved Americans their freedom had already been on the books for more than two years.
Just think about that, enslaved people endured 30 more months of slavery in Texas after President Lincoln granted them freedom.
And, because non-Confederate states still practiced slavery, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery in all the United States, would not even be ratified for six more months after that.
People in Galveston celebrated that day as Juneteenth, and, in 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday. More than 40 years later, on June 17, 2021, it became a national holiday, although it is still not uniformly observed.
The Emancipation Proclamation invalidated the “Three-Fifths Compromise” of the United States Constitution, which said any person who was not free counted as three-fifths of a free individual to determine congressional representation, which enhanced the power of Southern slave-holding states.
That snake oil has ramifications for voting rights that still reverberate in our politics today. Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court said, “the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race” (when writing his plurality opinion for Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1) while leaving in place discriminatory voting laws that set back voting rights for generations of Americans.
Emancipation, which Juneteenth represented, was supposed to make formerly enslaved Americans whole after Blacks had been considered a fraction of a human.
Enslaved African Americans endured whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, imprisonment, and other untold horrors to build America’s wealth and infrastructure. So, while some in our nation would prefer to move on, some of us still bear this vestigial nightmare that defies wakefulness, much less healing, from this historical wound.
Juneteenth is a holiday searching for its true meaning in our American traditions.