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The Past, Present, and Future of Juneteenth

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

It was in 2021 that Juneteenth was finally declared a federal holiday by President Joe Biden. In case you don’t know, Juneteenth is a day holiday that recognizes June 19, 1865 - the day when slaves on Galveston

Island, Texas finally learned they’d been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior.

For countless Black men and women, hearing the words that slavery was over and freedom was theirs were words they’d been longing to hear. The joy that they felt in that moment echoes across time in our celebrations today.

However, isn’t it wild that it took 2 whole years before Black slaves knew they were free? In 2022, some might say that it still feels as if this country is still neither equal nor free. We are halfway through the year and the attacks on Black men and Black families are very prevalent. So, it’s time to stop playing games. It’s time to end the crisis affecting Black men. It’s time to live up to that 157-year-old proclamation of absolute equality.

Freedom comes with expectations. Expectations that we would be treated equally and not as second-class citizens. That we would be able to marry and love those of our choosing, those who would also choose us, and that we would be able to work and live as free people. Some said that we expected too much, too soon. So many died fighting to have their expectations met. You’re supposed to have expectations—of yourself, of others, of this world. We can change America, and I can’t think of a better Juneteenth tribute or Father’s Day gift than doing so.

A Poem by Harry Seymour from the Vineyard Gazette

Juneteenth and Father’s Day

Third week of June

A double celebration

Of fathers we know

And those liberated

Over a hundred years ago

On Juneteenth

Marking the end of slavery

When men were encouraged

To breed

And not be fathers

In the paternal sense

Of nurturing a child

A form of fatherhood

Not to be celebrated

But remembered

On Juneteenth

As inspirational for all

Denied reciprocal love

Between father and child

And aspirational in forging

That universal bond

Hence Juneteenth’s legacy

Coinciding with Father’s Day

Is not simply coincidental

But consequential

When honoring fathers

Past, present and absent.

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