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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

826 Juneteenth serves as a reminder of how freedom from chattel slavery was delayed

Day 826: Monday, June 20, 2022 -

Juneteenth serves as a reminder of how freedom from chattel slavery was delayed

A Poem by Lucille Clifton - (1936-2010)

won’t you celebrate with me

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

Juneteenth challenges us to consider the promises of freedom not yet fully realized in the United States.

In the 1890s, Juneteenth celebrations included questions about the “broader implications for citizenship,” and Black people strategized about how to secure voting rights and larger participation in the American political process.

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s March—a demonstration about economic justice—held a Juneteenth celebration as a way to address poverty and freedom by examining the past.

At the holiday’s core, Juneteenth has always recognized that freedom for Black people has been delayed by the continuing systemic and institutional oppression of Black people in America.

Anti-Black racist ideas, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs along with the modern social and political institutions founded and upheld by White supremacy, keep freedom delayed for Black people in America.

It is fitting that Juneteenth is the holiday held before the nation celebrates the Fourth of July. The two holidays, less than a month apart, ask us to think about what freedom means, who has it, and how institutions, laws, and policies continue to deny true freedom to certain individuals. On July 4, 1776, the inception of America’s recognized Independence Day, Black people still remained in bondage.

Almost 100 years later, enslaved Black Americans were freed, leading to the creation of the Juneteenth holiday. And as people have continued to celebrate emancipation. Juneteenth serves as a reminder of how freedom from chattel slavery was delayed by unjust systems and institutions.

As we approach July 4, 2022, it's important to reflect on the nation’s history with freedom and move towards disrupting the systems that have and continue to harm children, youth, and families today.


Lineage by Margaret Walker

My grandmothers were strong.

They followed plows and bent to toil.

They moved through fields sowing seed.

They touched earth and grain grew.

They were full of sturdiness and singing.

My grandmothers were strong.

My grandmothers are full of memories

Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay

With veins rolling roughly over quick hands

They have many clean words to say.

My grandmothers were strong.

Why am I not as they?

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