Happy Freedom Day!!!

Happy Freedom Day!!!
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Maybe you missed it last year, or the years before that, but that was my greeting to all of my friends and family on June 19th. Or maybe you and I weren’t friends yet last year, or the years before that.
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I have been studying U.S. history outside of a school setting for most of my life. One of the primary reasons is that was the only way for me to learn about things like Juneteenth, Black Wall Street, or the Tulsa Race Massacre (or those that happened in Charleston and other cities, too). There were no chapters about Madame CJ Walker and her entrepreneurial acumen in the textbooks of my childhood. I had to learn the stories of Black Americans who should be world famous like James Hemings from books I discovered in the library or from listening to my elders.
So my enthusiasm for Juneteenth finally becoming a national holiday is somewhat tempered by the surprising number of arguments against its recognition. What does not surprise me is just how little research many of those pushing back against this acknowledgement have actually done.
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– Is Juneteenth really the end of slavery in the U.S.? Nope. But it does mark the federal government’s interference with troops in the ground to interrupt the continuing state-sanctioned abuse of Black people in Texas. Would that that had actually been the end of it!
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– Haven’t all Black people known about, and been celebrating, Juneteenth already? Unfortunately, no. This information was conveniently left out of history textbooks, and it hasn’t been widely publicized or discussed until recently. Many who did know about it were not in places where they may have felt safe to celebrate. Others might have actually resided in states where the holiday was already recognized, and may or may not have chosen to participate in public events.
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– Why not just celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, or the surrender of Sherman, or the ratification of the 13th Amendment instead? I would counter with another question of my own. Why are Black citizens of the United States still expected to celebrate acknowledgement of their personhood and independence under the law when and where non-Black citizens dictate?
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– Isn’t this simply another attempt to further divide the nation along color lines? Absolutely not! Juneteenth is so much MORE than a singular event in Black history. This is U.S. history. It is another step forward in the full realization of the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL of her people, not only a few. That is something I believe we all should be proud to celebrate!!! We still have so many MORE to go.
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So, on this Juneteenth, I will celebrate my independence with my family in private, just as I have done for many more years than I have publicly proclaimed on social media. I will enjoy my BBQ favorites, my Macaroni & Cheese, and my red drinks. And just like this beautiful red dessert, my feelings will remain complex and layered. A federal holiday is fine, but it does nothing to address the systemic racism, the police brutality, nor the legal inequalities that my people continue to face. None of this will keep me from celebrating today. It will, however, make me even MORE watchful of what happens the other 364 days of the year.
Lattice-Topped Cherry Cheesecake Pie
Lattice-Topped Cherry Cheesecake Pie

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