Congress has designated June 19 as a national holiday, Juneteenth. President Biden will sign the bill into law today, and as a result, tomorrow will be a federal holiday for many federal workers. It is another step on a long journey towards our nation recognizing and grappling with a dark history of slavery, realism, prejudice, and enduring inequity. Someday, we will arrive together at truth, reconciliation, and restorative justice.
In 2021, we will recognize a historic moment in America’s story.
On Juneteenth, we will celebrate the emancipation of African-Americans after the Civil War.
On Independence Day, we will celebrate declaring independence from Great Britain.
On each day, our union can stand united by a common creed: all humans are created equal, with unalienable rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.
We cannot say yet that we have upheld those rights for all in 2021, but that is the right standard to strive for together as states formed into a union, like equal justice before the law and freedom from hunger, fear, hatred, or want.
American young democracy remains flawed, but celebrating the end of slavery will help remind us all of who we have been and what this nation could yet become: a thriving, multiracial, pluralistic liberal democracy based upon a Constitution.
The USA remains a fragile, messy experiment in self governance, not yet even three centuries old, under threat by enemies both foreign and domestic. And yet, the arc of American’s history is still being bent towards justice by our votes and active citizenship.
May we all find common cause in preserving and defending our union for generations yet to come on Juneteenth and Independence Day, united as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.