Today is June 19th. I always remembered it as my parents’ anniversary. If they were alive today, they would have been married 87 years. However, many people in the United States would remember June 19th as Juneteenth. It was June 19th, 1865 when African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas first learned that they had been freed from slavery. Yes, the Emancipation Proclamation had been promulgated in 1863, but that monumental edict was not experienced in Texas until this particular date in Galveston. They celebrated that date, and it eventually became a day of remembrance of the freedom from oppression that came to light that day.
Interestingly, I too was unaware of the importance of this date until I was 22 years old, graduated from college, and working in the human services field. It was the summer of 1972 before I knew what Juneteenth was.
I recently attended a gathering where Ruby Bridges spoke about her experience in the integration of a school in her hometown in Louisiana in 1960. You may, or may not know, that Ruby Bridges was the little girl depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting showing her flanked by U.S. Marshals walking into a previously all-White school.
Her story is profound, in that she recognizes that racism is not the problem we face today, it is the problem of good versus evil. Good people must unite to combat the evils of racism. We recognize that hatred and rejection of “other” is the basic problem.
So, as we recognize Juneteenth, let’s remember that we wrestle with evil in this world, and racism is just one of those evils that divides us.