I love the Fourth of July. I remember picnics, family gatherings, long, warm evenings, and my favorite, fireworks! It was a day to celebrate freedom. Our country declared its independence with the words, “all men are created equal.”
It is only now, much later in life, that I have taken to heart that not all of us celebrated freedom that day. In spite of our words, not all our citizens are treated as equals. For hundreds of years, our laws and our embedded systems have treated our black and indigenous brothers and sisters as less than equal, even less than human. So the Fourth of July is great, still a day for celebration, but it is not the day we all won our freedom.
That’s where Juneteenth comes in. Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th and remembers the end of slavery in Louisiana and Texas, the last two states in the union to end slavery on June 19, 1865. President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery on January 1, 1863. But evidently the word didn’t get to Louisiana and Texas for another two years. So Juneteenth is a celebration of (finally) the end of slavery in the entire United States. As we all know, even the end of slavery has still not meant that all people are treated as equals, there is still lots of work to do. But Juneteenth celebrates a huge step in the right direction.
Now, I like a good party. And I like a party with a purpose. So this year, I hope to take in some Juneteenth celebrations. There are lots of activities, gatherings, and celebrations being organized in our communities. How about you? If you are looking for ideas, click HERE for a link to a big listing of celebrations in Snohomish County. Let’s celebrate Juneteenth!