This year’s Juneteenth is unlike any other in recent years. As we continue to have open and honest conversations about the ramifications of slavery and systemic racism.
June 19, 1865 marks the celebration of the emancipation of all enslaved people in Texas. This came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law. But it took two years for the news of freedom to reach those in the most remote parts of the south.
155 years later this is a stark difference with the instantaneous transfer of information we enjoy now. Cell phones videos and the ability to post our truths directly to the world without censors and gatekeepers is increasingly forcing our society to face the truth, that even though we were freed in 1863, we still aren’t free. Free to go for a jog in our neighborhood, free of unfair profiling while shopping, driving, or just walking down the street.
Over the past four weeks we’ve had this reality, the reality of African Americans, brought to the forefront of the national conversation. As we move forward from this eye opening moment in history, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris and Republican Sen. John Coryn are working to propose a bill to have Juneteenth marked as a Federal Holiday. This will give us all time to reflect on the journey we have taken and how far we still have to go.