UNITED STATES—I truly don’t know how I feel about Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday. The news came out this week that members of Congress actually agreed on something and unanimously (yeah that is crazy to hear) passed a bill making June 19, a federal holiday. I’m assuming it will fully go into effect next year. For those not in the know, June 19 marks the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas finally discovered 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed granting slaves their freedom.
Yeah, word traveled slow back then which allowed slave owners another 2 years to benefit off of free labor of slaves. The crazy thing about Juneteenth is that I had no idea about this day until last year, where America had its race reckoning after the death of George Floyd in the middle of a pandemic where I had seen things that I never thought I would ever witness in my lifetime. How in the hell as an African-American male did I NOT know about this holiday? We never learned about it in school and the same can be said for the Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre in 1921 of what was deemed Black Wall Street.
I never learned about either of these historical moments, which brings me to the most important issue about this holiday: it’s all about education, but will that actually take effect in our country. Hmm, let me think about it: probably not. For most Americans, it’s just another day off. It’ll be a federal holiday where all government offices will be closed, no mail will be delivered, people will probably barbeque and the day will go on. Hell, I heard comedian D.L. Hughley say on a recent appearance on TMZ that all African Americans should have that day off. Hmm, sounds like that should be true, rather that’s going to happen is another story and I think we all know the answer people: it won’t.
It raised my eyebrow even more after discovering several politicians in Congress voted against approving the federal holiday, but just a few weeks ago they were against teaching critical race theory (a fancy term people) in our schools. Look, slavery is a touchy topic no one wants to topic about it and all the horrors that it inflicted on this country, particularly African Americans. However, here is a fact, one that is NEVER GOING TO CHANGE: Slavery happened, it is part of our history and we have to talk about those atrocities.
I don’t know where I heard this phrase, but I know its importance. “Failure to talk about the past, will only led us to repeating the same mistakes in the future.” Sound advice, but there is a large chunk of this country who just want to act as if slavery didn’t exist. That is something that people are going to have to come to grips with rather you like it or not, slavery existed and its part of American history and its always going to be a sore spot for people, particularly African-Americans.
That is why Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is so decisive for me because I don’t think people are going to be educated or want to educate themselves on the significance of that day. It will just be another day off for most Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I mean how many African-Americans actually reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, his mission and all he did for this county? How about Whites? How many of them are actually educating themselves on that legacy?
All valid questions I have a right to ask and I think should be asked because making a particular day a federal holiday has significance and I’m hoping that significance is potent in the coming years. American history is something we tend to pick and choose what we learn about. In life, you need to be exposed to all, the good, the bad and the ugly no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.