A few days ago on June 19th called Juneteenth, Black Americans celebrated this nation’s granting and military enforcement of the ending of slavery in this nation named the United States of America.
Juneteenth has its roots in the military enforcement of the end of slavery on June 19, 1865 in the City of Galveston in the state of Texas. This event of June 19th was and is an independence (freedom) from the tyranny of slavery. Yet it was not and is not an independence from America but a dependence on this nation to grant to Black American every right and opportunity in every area of society that it grants to its White Americans and to enforce such granting in law at every level and even by military force then and forever more.
It is during this time of the year that we the United States of America celebrate this nation’s independence from that other nation called Great Britain.
It was on July 4, 1776 when the founders of this nation issued the Declaration of Independence. Part of that declaration sets forth the following:
“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
This Declaration of Independence recognizes a great truth that these rights are given by God first and foremost. No nation, no state, no city, and no person has the authority from God to take those rights from another person. Only that other person can voluntarily by his or her own personal acts give up those inalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments at all levels are to secure those rights with equity for all persons regardless of skin color.
It is from this Declaration of Independence that arose the following Preamble to the US Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. “
It is from the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution that arises from the streets and houses of Black Americans and their White American allies the protesting clarion call for the nation to deliver on that promissory note of racial social legal justice and check with sufficient funds for economic justice that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many before and after him have and are making; a delivery that is to be made morally, legally, socially, and economically and in every other manner.
So I as a Black American both humbly and proudly recognize and celebrate both Juneteenth and Independence Day. Both should be recognized and celebrated by our government at all levels. This should be done so as to formally demonstrate recognition of past wrongs both from without and from within the United States of America. This should be done so as to formally demonstrate a commitment and godly moral will to secure equitable liberty for all Americans regardless of race or skin color. And we NONVIOLENTLY and with fatherly and brotherly LOVE not hate or humiliation toward people of any race exhort and rebuke this nation unto repentance and that this delivery be made NOW. For the time is long past.
Some White Americans say statues and other symbols of the nation’s founders and of the Confederacy are important to the memory of those of their race who came before them. That I understand! That is one reason statues and symbols do not bother me. For the people represented did both good and evil. There are statues and other symbols of Black Americans who also did both good and evil. Any statue that does not explicitly project an honoring of evil is tolerable to me.
But now this nation in general and White Americans in particular must understand something from us, Black Americans. We owe it to the memory of those who endured government and non-government sanctioned grave inhumane treatment before us, to ourselves, and to the generations to come after us, to not be silent.
Our people have never been silent. The slaves who sought to escape and some did escape at least for a time their slavery in the beginning years of this nation were not being silent. Harriet Tubman underground railroad was not being silent. Fredrick Douglas’s “What is the Fourth of July to Us” was not being silent. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech was not being silent and his 1965 “The American Dream” sermon on Independence Day was not being silent.
Some Blacks of recently have turned to not believing Blacks ought to honor and celebrate Independence Day. They base that viewpoint on a speech Frederick Douglass gave in 1852 entitled “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”.
To rather sarcastically make a point, I hereby declare that hereafter you don’t get off work on that day; only White People get off on that day. Just like it is right for white people to honor and celebrate MLK Day, Black History Month, and Juneteenth, etc. it is right for black people to celebrate Independence Day. All of those holidays are about us as a nation not individual persons or groups.
Frederick Douglas lived before slavery ended and after slavery ended. When he wrote “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” in 1852 black people were still enslaved and most likely working in the fields on July 4th. That was his point. He was a free black because he had escaped enslavement but many were yet enslaved and not viewed as full citizens. Indeed technically he was yet a slave.
But he encouraged blacks to join the union to fight against the Confederacy in the Civil War. He also spoke at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington after the Civil War and abolishment of slavery. Yes, at Arlington he spoke of the National Anthem as a song for all free citizens which by that time included blacks.
I am more and more convinced that one of the greatest tragedies of our nation over the last 50 years or so is that we have taught our people (black and white) how to get a career but not how to think. And so misleading and partial sound bites sway far too many.
Just kidding about the work. I know many white and blacks take off on holidays and really don’t honor the purpose of the day. I also understand why people may have feel that way concerning July 4th. Indeed, there is much work yet to do regarding justice in this nation. So I certainly don’t mean to disrespect anyone’s feelings or belief. My goal is to ensure you and I are better informed about history and what is really going on.
No my fellow citizens my people have never been silent. Yes, since 1968 we have been more silent than we should have but there has been noise from various corners. We hoped that changed laws would result in changed hearts. Somehow we of my generation and later forgot Rev. King’s warning in a lecture at Western Michigan University where he said “It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.” What we forgot is that James in the Holy Scripture is yet right not only morally but also legally racially socially and economically. Faith without works is dead. It is a useless faith. It is a deceptive faith. Any law that is not enforced is a dead law. It is a useless law. It is a deceptive law.
So now those of my generation and later have awaken from our sleep with thunder and lightening to answer the clarion call. Like there has been from the beginning of this nation White Americans who stood with us, we welcome and are grateful to those who do so today.
No my people have never been silent. From the beginning the slave spoke with his actions to escape slavery. Frederick Douglass was not silent during slavery nor after the abolishment of slavery. Perhaps our noise since April 4, 1968 has been much to soft when our loudest most persuasive successful voice (Rev. MLK Jr’s) was snuffed out by an assassin’s action. We will not be silent with softness any longer. For we know what lies beneath the veil of law. What lies beneath you ask? Well it is far too much a heart of hate or a heart deceived into thinking that it loves.
Yet we will not overreact with undue harshness. We will non-violently act with due firmness. Let us of all races together push pull and press forward and upward toward that more perfect union.
In the principle set forth by the Lord God Creator of all, black, brown, white and black, red, and yellow, in the image of God, in his likeness alike: Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of deliverance.