Hello Black America, please allow me this opportunity to ask you to consider some important and relevant principal facts about ourselves as a community and a people.
Recently we celebrated Independence day, the 4th of July. Many of the far right extremes of our community would balk at celebrating America’s Birthday, because of the seriously discordant history of Black or Africans in America. We however do not agree with this position, as it fails to acknowledge the ideal of what America has strived to become, and has succeeded in achieving significant change, as well as for the thousands of lives sacrificed in service to this nation by our people. Many would deam this unpatriotic not only to America but more pertinently to our own Black community.
We however, also do not agree with the politically left position that we are simply all American, and honoring seperate traditions unique to our American historical position as Blacks or Africans, are unecessary, divisive and fruitless. This position is equally or perhaps even more bereft of wisdom and a sense of self-worth or identity as a community or a people. So we respectfully reject this position as well. It too is very unpatriotic to ourselves, but one could apporiately perceive this to be self-hatred.
We submit that we are Americans by virtue of our birth and by virtue of our centuries of myriad sacrifices and work both voluntary and involuntary toward the development of this country first under the British, then under the Colonials and now under the United States of America, of which we too are “sons” and “daughters.”
However, most importantly we are of African descent, brought to this land under duress and in captivity, kidnapped from our shores and family; a crime against humanity, still to this day yet unaddressed with adequate compensation-(save this discussion is for another day). So one must admit that our experience is like no other people on the face of the Earth today. A whole population of diverse ethnicities taken so far from their homes and forced into centuries of brutality and servitude, later to be freed by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation, probably the most significant executive order ever issued by a president, as far as Black Americans are concerned, made effective on Jan. 1, 1863. But it was not until January 18th, 1865 that all African Americans in the United States were actually freed as the “good ole Texans” had to be forced by federal troops in battle, even after the end of the Civil War hostilities, to comply with the order to free the enslaved.
So on June 19, 1865 the “last” of the enslaved Africans were freed to be Americans. To make the choice to determine their own futures and everything thereafter. Hence, the GREAT day for celebrating our collective freedom to be Americans, to be self-determined men and women, to be whatever we so choose, by law and inalienable right. Juneteenth was born!
So we conclude as a Black or African Americans, to celebrate the 4th of July with such pomp and circumstance on one hand, and to not celebrate Juneteenth with equally if not greater pomp and circumstance or even reverence is utterly heinous and a shame unto ourselves.
Please consider these words for next year and lets begin the revitalization of this most sacred day in OUR African American Story, yea even for the total population – our American Story, as we all put Juneteenth in its proper place of respect in our community and our nation!
LaQuay L. Juel is the editor and principal partner of BLACKNJ News & Politics as well as BLACKNJ.COM a New Jersey based statewide company serving Black owned businesses and professionals. He has been a longstanding organizational community activist in politics, business development, and social thought.