June 19 celebrates the end of slavery in the United States
By Andrew Harris
It took about two years after the US Civil War ended before many slaves in Texas were notified that they had been freed. The holiday has long been celebrated in the African-American community but the United States government officially declared it a national holiday, like the Fourth of July or Labor Day, on June 18, 2021.
This new stature as a national holiday has brought renewed attention to the racial divide in the country. Laid bare in Buffalo NY, people are being killed for the color of their skin. In Wellsville, and Whitesville, and Scio, and Bolivar; we are very white. Our populations are becoming more and more beautifully diverse, the American melting pot.
We have an opportunity to celebrate the end of enslaving people based on the color of their skin. Sure we all have a “black friend,” that exempts us from guilt. Nope, we have to be considerate of the open wound that slavery created and it never healed. Me, Mr. tighty whitey himself, has to go further and help heal the wound when possible. We have to consider “How to be a Antiracist,” the title of the famous book by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Embracing and encouraging diversity in our communities at a conscious level is part of the antiracism Dr. Kendi instructs. Dr. Kendi also encourages direct intervention when possible, from calling out racist speak or demanding local leaders embrace antiracism.
Bob Marley said, “in this great future you can’t forget your past.”
We’ve abolished slavery but not entirely ended the practice, or really attempted to correct the harm it caused. The news that slavery was outlawed nationally was a cause for greater attention to an issue and celebration of a new day in humanity. We have to keep working toward that goal and celebrating Juneteenth is a start.