June 19, 1865, a date more commonly referred to as Juneteenth, may be remembered and celebrated in some communities more than others. In fact, I would not be surprised if for many of you reading this, it is the first time you have heard of Juneteenth. That may be because Juneteenth adds complexity to the simplified mainstream narrative we were taught in school, that Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, even after the proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863 not all slaves found themselves free; the last of the slaves would not be freed until 2,000 union troops marched into Galveston Bay, Texas on June 19, 1865. This was over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect and nearly 5 months after the passing of the 13th Amendment. This makes Juneteenth a day that celebrates freedom while simultaneously acknowledging the difficulties and delays involved when dismantling systems built to subjugate people of color, especially African Americans. It was three years ago that I learned about the history of Juneteenth, over 150 years after the last slaves were granted their freedom. It is a reminder of the history that was never taught to us, the history we must educate ourselves on. Juneteenth, Operation Wetback, the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, and Indian Schools are only a few examples of historical events that were omitted or whitewashed and has distorted our understanding of American history. As June 19th approaches, let it be a reminder of the work left to be done to shed light on the past in order to better our future.
Shared by Adrian Gomez, Cultural Responsiveness Academy (CRA) Learning and Curriculum Coordinator