Celebrating Freedom And Equality
photo: Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Public Domain
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Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom Over Oppression
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Injustice against one is injustice against all. That’s why Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) was founded in 2004–to uphold progressive ideals including social justice.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth Emancipation Day, a celebration of General Orders, No. 3 (more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation). The orders, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger at Galveston, Texas, in 1865 announced:
“The people of Texas are informed that … all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves….”
One year later, African Americans in Texas began a grassroots movement to observe Juneteenth on or around June 19th, celebrating it as a day of liberation. Even as we celebrate, we struggle to overcome current oppression, racism, and abuse—including racially-motivated voter suppression.
Historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner describes these early Juneteenth celebrations as “a potent life-giving event … a joyful retort to messages of overt racism … a public counter-demonstration to displays of Confederate glorification and a counter-memory to the valorization of the Lost Cause.”
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Now fast forward to 2019. Dedicated activists have revived Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign to overcome poverty, targeted voter suppression, and other systemic racism. Meanwhile, the corrupt Trump administration escalates its war on people of color as well as women, Muslims, immigrants, and others.
In a chilling throwback to some of the most shameful days in U.S. History, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans last week to turn a former WWII Japanese American internment camp in Oklahoma into an emergency “shelter” for 1,400 migrant children.
Life-threatening detainment of children at the border is already nearing record levels, yet Trumpublican policies continue to exacerbate the migrant/refugee crisis. Yesterday, Trump tweeted this threat:
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
This threat to further weaponize ICE and persecute innocents seeking refuge from violence in their homeland is intolerable. We must all, individually and collectively, fight the scourge of systemic authoritarianism and structural racism in all of its insidious forms.
Juneteenth Emancipation Day reminds us of the triumph of joy over tragedy, of freedom over oppression, of determination and activism over despair, and we take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves toward goals of “liberty and justice for all.” Click Here to tell Congress to Abolish ICE and Halt Deportations.
We appreciate all you do to help make progress on equality, equity, social justice, and other imperatives. If you’ve never donated to help PDA help you pressure our elected officials, now is the perfect time. We need your support more than ever. Click Here to support PDA’s issue organizing.
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