Reflections On “Juneteenth”


Guest Post by A.M. Golden

[Well THAT was fast! This morning’s Open Forum generated not one but two guest post-worthy comments regarding the newly created “Juneteenth” national holiday. I had intended to post on it yesterday; for once I’m pleased that life got in the way. This is the first; the second will appear shortly, and who knows? There may be more!–JM]

So let’s talk about Juneteenth, shall we?

A blatant attempt to pander to the African-American community. A federal holiday that only a small group of people actually celebrate. I’m still trying to figure out if I can go to the post office tomorrow.

I’ve also read one article already by a person of color who admits to feeling uncomfortable with the thought of white people celebrating this holiday.

So, no, this won’t be divisive, will it?

Like Labor Day and Martin Luther King Day, Juneteenth will likely be another holiday that will be like any other day for most working people. African-Americans make up a large percentage of those who work in food service and retail stores – industries that balk at giving employees even one or two federal holidays off work, much less paid days off.

The white collar businesses that are most likely to close on holidays are going to tread very carefully here. Even large companies don’t like to give employees extra paid days off. My company once gave employees Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off as holidays, but not Martin Luther King Day. Then they let the employees vote and the result is that now we have Martin Luther King Day off, but not Christmas Eve.

Any business that adds Juneteenth as a paid company holiday is likely to do so after yanking another paid holiday from the calendar, such as the day after Thanksgiving.

Yep, that won’t be divisive either.

Any thoughts on how easily America is going to transition into two Independence Days, one for whites, one for blacks?

21 thoughts on “Reflections On “Juneteenth”

  1. Juneteenth, from what I have read, only commemorates the freeing of slaves in a single state.

    If we needed a new holiday, why not September 22nd, which is the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

    It would be an understatement to call the Proclamation a game changer,.Irt changed the war from a war to avenge Fort Sumter to a war to end slavery in the United States. The Reconstruction Amendments became possible because of the Proclamation.

    • I have an even better thought – Why don’t we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which was ratified December 6th of 1865. Doesn’t anyone realize that two states still had legal chattel slavery after “Juneteenth, namely Kentucky and (as Joe Biden suffers a stroke hearing this) Delaware? So people are happy celebrating the day when most of the slaves were freed rather than when they all were?

      So what can be behind this whole “Juneteenth” thing? I have several suspects — 1) it’s a catchier name, encapsulating the enforced ignorance of blacks suffering in chattel slavery during the period, and 2) it’s in the June, where there are no federal holidays and in the summertime, where holidays are more desirable. Another holiday in the Thanksgiving/Christmas period would be lost among the more celebrated and famous holidays, and likely would suffer for it, much as MLK day does due to the proximity to New Years and the fact it’s in the winter.

      • But Juneteenth probably will become a state holiday in Texas, now, and soon, with this latest BlueAnon goal-line sneak.

      • It’s been an official state holiday in Texas for a few decades, I think. Not sure how broadly it’s been celebrated, particularly by a day off. Maybe just state workers, if that

    • I would agree — the Emancipation Proclamation meant that the CSA was doomed as long as the North kept its nerve and stayed the course. Their only legitimate hope was foreign intervention and the Proclamation made that impossible.

      But you know, in my more cynical moments I’d say that it was a Republican who issued the Proclamation, so there’s no political advantage for the Democrats to recognize it. Juneteenth lets them further their racist agenda.

      I would also note that there is already an Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia. It is April 16th, which is the anniversary from 1862 of when the slaves in D.C. were freed. That is why tax day is occasionally pushed back an extra day.

  2. Michael T Ejercito wrote, “Juneteenth, from what I have read, only commemorates the freeing of slaves in a single state.”

    It’s significant because that was the very LAST holdout of slavery within the United States, slavery physically ended on that date.

    I agree about the Emancipation Proclamation vs Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation and the previous Declaration of Independence and Constitution are literally what made Juneteenth possible. Juneteenth would NOT have been possible is any one of those three hadn’t taken place first. Juneteenth was built upon the solid foundations that were build years before.

    • The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end slavery; it only applied to areas of the Confederacy not under Union control. It specifically didn’t apply to much of Southeastern Virginia. Has anybody besides me actually read it? What ended slavery was in fact the enactment of the 13th Amendment. An despite what the 1619 Project says, it is my understanding that the first Blacks brought in 1619 by the Dutch were endured servants and not slaves.

      • Cynical John,
        Did you miss this part of the comment…

        “…the Emancipation Proclamation and the previous Declaration of Independence and Constitution are literally what made Juneteenth possible. Juneteenth would NOT have been possible is any one of those three hadn’t taken place first. Juneteenth was built upon the solid foundations that were build years before.”

    • Well, not exactly the last holdout. Slavery was still legal and practiced in Kentucky and Delaware until ratification of the 13th Amendment on Dec. 6, and in the Choctaw Nation and places that became U.S. territories after that. But, so what? The real Independence Day almost certainly was not July 4. Who really knows when Christ was born? President’s Day commemorates the good, the bad, and the ugly, and the actual date most years has no special significance. Dates in our history that should be almost sacred are given second billing to dates that fit a 3-day weekend.
      But, take heart. Eventually our descendents will enjoy a 4-day work week. Just conversion of one federal holiday to annual and 40 new holidays to go.

  3. Juneteenth became another paid Federal holiday this week…it’s today. Youngest who is new to the Federal work force was told she was not allowed to work today even if she wanted to…but will get paid.

    The holiday is misunderstood I fear. Every society, tribe, religion, etc. has had slaves in the past – but the United States of America chose to end slavery for all in 1865, at the cost of thousands of mostly white lives. THAT is what should be celebrated by blacks – with gratitude for those who made their ancestors’ freedom possible and for how far we as a diverse society have come in working/living together.

    Instead, I fear it is a gateway to more divisiveness and more demands for “equity”…equal outcome rather than equal opportunity. The flames of division are now perpetrated by the media and color-first leaders using catchy phrases to camouflage their own racism toward those who don’t look like them.

    It is those entities who are taking us backwards to an era of looking at skin color to determine who is in the favorable group and who should be shunned – championing the very things they claim to protest.

    Reparations have already been paid – during the Civil War and through the multitude of social/affirmative action programs ever since. It’s time for personal responsibility rather than group-think to become the mantra.

    • Jack muses:

      “’I’ve also read one article already by a person of color who admits to feeling uncomfortable with the thought of white people celebrating this holiday.”

      Said person can rest assured that most white people won’t be observing the holiday.


    • In Texas, Juneteenth is actually acknowledged on June 19, not the 18th, but because June 19 falls on Saturday this year (oopsy – that calendar thingy always causes problems; I blame Pope Gregory XIII!), it will be observed today, right? But, I went to the Post Office this morning and it was business as usual, with bright, smiling Postal Workers always eager to help. Someone forgot to tell them today is a federal/national holiday.


  4. Mrs. OB reports over forty percent of the U.S. population descends from German immigrants. Why isn’t Octoberfest observed here? Shouldn’t there be a federal holiday month for forty percent of the population? I descend from a Hessian escapee P.O.W. What about me and my holiday?

  5. More holidays for federal employees, please. Maybe eventually, they’ll have 366 holidays per year, and will just be paid not to work, like so many of their voters are being paid not to work.

  6. I am listening to Jay Sekulow and some other talkers on Facebook right now, talking about how the federal government is taking over control of all elections everywhere.

  7. I want African-Americans to achieve complete equality, with a robust middle class, and poverty, incarceration, life-expectancy, and joblessness rates comparable to the general population.

    Anyone who truly believes that “Black lives matter” should want the same.

    The thing is, we know what it takes to achieve the above, and decades of experience, trial, error, and research have given us a pretty clear-cut path to get there:

    -Nuclear families with a married mother and father
    -Careers and career opportunities
    -Disincentivizing welfare and entitlements
    -Rewarding career advancement, saving, and investing
    -Disincentivizing crime
    -Incentivizing starter businesses
    -More housing
    -Church involvement
    …and probably most important of all, school choice. A complete overhaul of public schools based entirely on results would be best, but that is laughably unrealistic.

    Those things don’t look like the Democrats’ platform at all. Which means that they are too stupid or lazy to find out what policies work, or, more likely, they don’t really want Black people to thrive.

    Juneteenth is a nice gesture but what really matters is Father’s Day.

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