One-hundred and fifty-five years ago, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger carried out a task in Galveston, Texas, that should have never been needed.
At least on paper, the Emancipation Proclamation had effectively ended slavery two and a half years prior. But within some parts of the Confederacy like Texas, nothing had changed. Some slave owners outright defied the proclamation, denying thousands of slaves their freedom and forcing federal troops to show up in person to emancipate them.
Today, Juneteenth commemorates that joyful day on June 19, 1865, when Granger finally freed the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy. Freedom Day, as it is also known, is when African Americans finally gained our independence.
More than ever, the celebration of Juneteenth is critical to encouraging America to take ownership of its persistent and sometimes violent struggle to address issues involving race. We must shift our perspective to embrace seeing things through the eyes of all who experienced these historic moments.
Like that final grind to emancipate the last slaves in America, the Black Lives Matter movement has also taken some time to be embraced. A few years ago, the very idea that African-Americans have a right to proclaim that our lives matter as much as white Americans repeatedly elicited a visceral and harsh response from some, and stony silence from others.
And as America has continued to deny that most basic premise of mattering to an entire race of people, the feelings of frustration, hopelessness, anger, and the need to rise up has grown. When we all watched the painful images of George Floyd’s final moments with a knee jammed into his neck, those feelings boiled over like hot lava. We aren’t just done. We are DONE, DONE.
Because the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable is an intergenerational movement of mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, nieces, grandmothers and matrons within our communities, state and nation, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We, too, demand that the world accepts our most basic and just of premises that African-American lives matter as much other races. We audaciously attest that this should NEVER be a cause for debate, argument, or dispute. We reject any denials or delays of justice, fairness and equality for Black people in America.
And to our brothers and sisters across this nation, Happy Juneteenth.
In this together ,
MS-BWR Director of Communications