Few days are as precious as those few when freedom takes a giant step forward.
Such a day was June 19th, 1865, the day Union troops informed the slaves of Galveston Texas that freedom was not only their unalienable right, but theirs in fact forevermore.
Juneteenth stands proudly alongside other such momentous occasions such as the signing of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, Independence Day, the adoption of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, VE Day, VJ day, the toppling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. (What other days of freedom belong on this list? Tell us in the comments).
The burst around the star represents a nova and the curve represents a horizon, standing for a new era for African Americans. The red, white, and blue colors represent the American flag, which shows that African Americans and their enslaved ancestors are Americans, and the national belief in liberty and justice for all citizens.
In 1997, activist Ben Haith created the Juneteenth flag, which was further refined by illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf. In 2000, the flag was first hoisted at the Roxbury Heritage State Parkin Boston by Haith. The star at the center represents Texas being the last state where its local African American slaves were freed, and the extension of freedom for all African Americans throughout the whole nation.
Slavery existed everywhere on Earth since the dawn of civilization.
WESTERN CIVILIZATION DIDN’T INVENT SLAVERY. IT ABOLISHED IT.
In 1776, a new nation adopted as its creed the immortal words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
When those words were written they did not yet apply to black Americans suffering under the yoke of slavery. Yet those words presaged the end of slavery. Abolition was the necesssary next step on the American road to freedom.
In 1847, Frederick Douglas adopted the motto for his abolitionist newspaper, “Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” Words to heed today.
In 1864, Abraham Lincoln wrote, “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Yet the Great Emancipator himself was unable to free all the slaves in an instant. Lincoln ended slavery by degrees. Yet end it he did. On April 15th, 1865, Lincoln joined thousands of American solders who paid for our freedom with their lives.
Lincoln did not live to see the last American slaves freed on June 19th, 1865. Would that he had.
Harriet Tubman said, “I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.”
Harriet Tubman understood freedom as only those who lived without it can. Tubman was as great an American as ever lived.
In 1963, Martin Luther Kings said, ” “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”
Like Lincoln, Dr. King paid with his life.
Equal justice under law, like freedom, is the right of every human on Earth. As Dr. King proclaimed, there is still work to do.
Sadly, today Americans need to be reminded that Socialism is anathema to the freedom for which so many fought. Socialism is the way back, not forward.
The path to freedom is not direct, instant, nor simple. Freedom isn’t free. Yet our commitment to freedom is the glory and essence of America.
Freedom is rare, precious and the right of every person on Earth.
The abolition of slavery is an American triumph.
When freedom advances revel in it.
Revel on Juneteenth!