Propelled forward by the energy of protesters across America’s cities, towns, and municipalities, America’s police superintendents, prosecutors, mayors, and governors are struggling with the method and means to implement change that will lead to a more just society. Furthermore, corporate America is facing the same dilemma of how to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination in hiring and promotion. The struggle for equal rights across all of America’s institutions has yet to be realized. For this reason, Juneteenth is especially significant this year as many feel like America may finally be on the verge of structural improvements in law enforcement, judicial practices, public education, housing, and employment practices.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were no free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. So today we honor the enslaved Africans that were brought to the United States against their will to build a country that has yet to live out its promise of justice for all. The difference between Juneteenth of the past and today is that America may be on the verge of real change. Protesters in the streets today are of all races, nationalities, age, and gender. For the first time it feels like the majority of Americans are invested in change as opposed to simply the oppressed.