Just signed into law 2 days ago, this new federal holiday celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.
As slavery is a part of U.S. history that Americans are (and should be) ashamed of, I believe it is proper and right to celebrate the end of the practice in this country. This is something the entire country should be proud of…it was the first step taken by the man-made U.S. government toward recognizing the actual (natural law) principles upon which the country was founded. It is baffling, however, that it took more than 150 years for the country to officially celebrate something so celebration-worthy.
You may be hearing arguments that the date is inappropriate for such a celebration (Maybe September 22 would be a better day…or maybe December 6, the day slavery was officially abolished by the 13th Amendment). So first a quick history lesson (from history.com) – and then my take on it.
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862 – which declared “as of January 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union ‘shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’”
The Emancipation Proclamation basically “freed” slaves in the Confederate states.
However, “In Texas, slavery had continued as the state experienced no large-scale fighting or significant presence of Union troops.”
So while the Union troops marched through the South, news of emancipation (freedom) was taken through the Confederate states and freedmen fled to the North under the protection of the Union troops – but it took until pretty much the end of the war for the news to reach those enslaved in Texas.
June Nineteenth (Juneteenth) “marks the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.”
(Even then, some enslavers in Texas withheld this information from the freedmen until the harvest was brought in that fall.)
“The year following 1865, freedmen in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of ‘Jubilee Day’ on June 19.”
So would September 22 be a better day to celebrate Emancipation? Should December 6 be the official holiday to celebrate the fact our government was finally falling in line with its foundational principles? That is a moot point – we have chosen June 19. And I actually think it is preeminently appropriate. Why?
It demonstrates that someone can be free without knowing they are free. It demonstrates that the freedom of a group of people can be recognized by some – but not by others - and maybe not even by those who have been freed. It reminds us that there will be those who intentionally lie, telling people who have no reason to believe otherwise, that they are NOT FREE, even though natural law and our founding documents declare otherwise – and even though codified in our governing document, the U.S. Constitution.
Knowing this history is definitely important – it points us back to the Declaration principles found in the Preamble – that it is self-evident (no one should have to point this out…it is obvious) all men are created EQUAL and are endowed by their Creator (not the government, not society, not the school system, not the written law) with certain inalienable (undeniable, innate, cannot be taken away) RIGHTS, that among these are Life, liberty (FREEDOM), and the pursuit of Happiness.
Don’t fall for the enslavers’ lies that you are not free. To be free, we must live as though we are free. Because we are. And we are blessed to live in a country where the government put its recognition of this fact on paper. We are blessed that we were a nation who took this obvious natural law and codified it into man-made, legally and politically recognized law…and YES, that fact should be celebrated by ALL Americans as a national federal holiday.
I hope this new federal holiday serves as a reminder to all Americans – you are free. Don’t let anyone tell you (or anyone you know) you are NOT equal, that you DON’T have rights, that you are NOT free.
Anyone who says you are not equal, that you don’t have the same rights, that you are not free, can be likened to the deceitful enslavers in Texas. They are lying for their own benefit.
But also know that there are many who fall for this lie. They are free, but don’t feel free, are not living as though they are free, and thus don’t recognize their own freedom.
Don’t stop telling them the good news: They are free too.
Happy Jubilee Day! Happy Juneteenth! Happy Freedom Day!
Now celebrate. Embrace your freedom.