top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureAAPF

Juneteenth and Symbolic Progress: The Old is New Again

Updated: Dec 20, 2022


“Juneteenth” in the African-American tradition is a period set aside for festivities that uplift the pride of the African Diaspora and Black people’s ongoing struggle for freedom. The designation “Juneteenth” comes from June 19th, 1865—the date when federal troops carried the message to Galveston, Texas that all enslaved people residing in Confederate States were declared to be legally free of bondage.


This year’s celebration arrives at a moment when the nationwide assault on racial justice has reached its highest pitch, and galvanized right-wing white nationalists into a coordinated and well-funded attack on teaching the truth about our racial past in our schools.


In order to fend off this latest bid to reassert the brutal racial hierarchies of white supremacy, we need to recover the liberatory promise expressed in the original celebrations of Juneteenth. It speaks volumes about our neglect of the narratives of Black liberation that federal lawmakers only recognized Juneteenth as a national holiday last year. Thanks to this long-standing failure to include the day in official rites of civil remembrance, many Americans don’t realize how important Juneteenth is, not only to Black history but also to American history. Standard civic textbook accounts of the struggle for Black freedom report that the slaves were freed on January 1, 1863, with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. But Juneteenth commemorates the truth of the matter: all enslaved people were not truly emancipated throughout the country until two and a half years later. The fact that this truth was actively suppressed from so many enslaved people rings as an historical echo for the many ways in which symbolic advances for Black people continue to mask over continuities that leave our material conditions undisturbed.


Juneteenth celebrations are about more than just food and family for Black Americans. This day is also a sober reminder of the U.S. government’s long-standing compromises and capitulations to the forces of white supremacist rule, and the American state’s role in perpetuating the subordination of Black people. Now with the nation belatedly acknowledging the significance of Juneteenth, this year’s celebration is an opportune time for America to move away from solely symbolic and talismanic invocations of racial progress and meet the present moment of coordinated white backlash with an unwavering commitment against white supremacy.

What must we do as a nation to realize the full freedom and citizenship of America’s Black citizens? Juneteenth should prompt an immediate call to action for state governments to publicly acknowledge the contributions of Black Americans in the building of the nation’s infrastructure and economy. We should also adopt concrete measures to honor those Black activists and other civic leaders who helped the nation realize the written ideals of the Constitution, and give long-overdue recognition to the Black people and other marginalized groups who have fought to transform the United States into a more inclusive democracy while making indelible contributions to our cultural, civic and spiritual life. Obviously, we cannot institute these essential rites of Black remembrance without a robust and ironclad public commitment to teaching the truth of our racial history.


To declare Juneteenth a national holiday that is hastily inscribed on Hallmark cards or crassly commercialized, by contrast, is to ignore the pressing crisis of racial subordination in today’s America and to leave Black Americans once more with the hollow shell of genuine democratic inclusion. To honor the moment of past Black liberation, we must undertake a far-reaching agenda of present-day Black liberation. We must, for starters, roll back the Shelby-era crackdown on voting rights in communities of color. We must follow through on the promise of the racial reckoning of 2020 to institute lasting and meaningful police accountability for Black victims of lethal state violence. We must fight to ensure federal and state governments will reallocate and redistribute resources to Black Americans who continue to live under the consequences of centuries of oppression, exploitation and their contemporary manifestations.


Purely symbolic acknowledgments of racial injustice often seek to purchase the mere surface impression of public racial comity on the cheap. Structural racism continues to disfigure the promise of American democracy in every sphere of life. To ignore this central fact—and indeed to censor, stamp out and ban any mention of structural racism, past and present—is akin to the central injustice at the heart of the original Juneteenth: freeing some but not all enslaved people. Until we have the right to call out the failures of American democracy, we will continue to protect and covet the Black American cultural tradition of Juneteenth, as a tangible reminder of our ancestors’ ceaseless struggles and tenacity in the face of unyielding forces of iniquitous social failures. Let this day be a day of remembrance and celebrations to uplift the hopes and possibilities of the enslaved people who dreamed that we will one day live in a nation where our histories, stories, aspirations, and voices matter in the quest to form a more perfect union.

394 views46 comments

Recent Posts

See All

46 Comments


Lolik
Lolik
Jun 10

The process of network inventory has always been labor intensive and time consuming. However, with the introduction of new software, this process has become much easier. We can now automatically scan the entire network and get up-to-date data on every device. This software helps us identify and fix problems early, which ultimately improves the performance and security of our network.

Like

Moving is always hard, especially when moving with a lot of stuff. CR Maids made the process much easier for us by offering quality move in cleaning service The house was perfectly clean, allowing us to focus on arranging furniture and other important things. Would recommend to anyone planning a move!

Like

Макс
Макс
May 26

I recently installed euro pleat drapes in my living room and the result is simply stunning https://www.helloalva.com/products/euro-pleat-drapes The drapes look very stylish and elegant, adding sophistication and coziness to the interior. The quality of fabric and sewing is top notch and the installation process was quite simple. HelloAlva team helped me to choose the perfect option for my interior, taking into account all my wishes. Now my living room has a completely new look and I am very happy with the result. I recommend to everyone who wants to update their windows with quality drapes.

Like

Modular Kitchen Designs in Gurgaon


Discover The Various Types of Modular Kitchen Designs in Gurgaon. Modular Kitchens & Interiors. Get The Best Prices And Choose The Kitchen Type And Design That Matches Your Preferences And Style. Our staff of experts provides customized options that are specific to your unique needs while paying close attention to every little detail. 

Like

luxury home furniture


We are the top manufacturer and seller of high-end  furniture made in India that features amazing furniture design. Within the line of luxury  metal furniture, More Decor produces an array of opulent pieces, including wall art, room dividers, center tables, side tables, console tables, dining tables, sofas, and armchairs.

Like
bottom of page