Juneteenth: Reckoning and Reconciliation


Juneteenth Flag

Juneteenth celebrates June 19th, 1865. On this date Major General Gordan Granger and Union troop of the American Civil War arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news of the Civil War’s end and that the enslaved were now free.

The Emancipation Proclamation came two and a half years earlier on January 1, 1863. The significance of this holiday is felt more this year, as protests fill the streets of country roads and continents. Despite the announcement and loss of the Civil War, many enslavers continued to hold Black people captive. The end of the Civil War meant a loss of income and supremacy for White Americans and led to an enactment of more than a century of laws (Jim Crow) and hinderances (Red-ling) to Black life in America from the Reconstruction era to the Coronavirus epidemic.

The idea of being killed and locked down is nothing new for black and brown people, from slavery to the prison pipeline to ice raids and heavy policing in communities of color. The difference now is that white people perhaps have more awareness and empathy about the specific experiences of Black and Brown people. Now more than ever people from every race, place and walk of life are coming together to recognize and educate themselves on the Black experience like never before. The elimination of distractions has ignited the idle to full attention. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; the rights, the dignity and a love for all people. This reckoning and reconciliation requires centering conversations around the existence of Juneteenth. Once we acknowledge the inhumanity of our past we can once again be human.

The Locust Army God’s Judgment’s on its way—the Day’s almost here! A black day! A Doomsday! Clouds with no silver lining! Like dawn light moving over the mountains, a huge army is coming. There’s never been anything like it and never will be again. Wildfire burns everything before this arm and fire licks up everything in its wake. Before it arrives, the country is like the Garden of Eden. When it leaves, it is Death Valley. Nothing escapes unscathed.

-       Joel 2-3, The Message