ThePoliticalCat

A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How Come Juneteenth Isn't a National Holiday?


How come ... okay, I do realize that we live in the United States of Amnesia ... but how come Juneteenth isn't a major holiday in this country? The end of slavery ... isn't that one of the most important, profound events this country has ever had? All the struggles, pain, deaths that went into the movement towards that goal!!!!

This country was built on the strenuous efforts, the enormous strength and hardship and deep deep pain of those folks that were kidnapped from their homelands.

It's hypocritical isn't it ... when rich folks talk about kidnapping of their family members by "extremists" ... it makes it sound like it is the most heinous crime -- that is if freedom fighters are doing the kidnapping. But those same rich folks don't talk about slavery like that. Maybe ... maybe the words come out of their mouths ... but if you watch closely ... the passion is not there.

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From today's Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1862, the U.S. Congress outlawed slavery in all United States territories. This congressional act nullified the Supreme Court decision known as the Dred Scott case, decided five years prior, which prohibited blacks from ever becoming U.S. citizens.

But few were actually freed on this day. At the time, the country was about a year deep into the Civil War, and most states that allowed slavery had already seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy — and were not taking orders from the United States Congress. Abraham Lincoln was still working on drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation, the final version of which wouldn't be delivered until the following January, about six months later. And even that would have little immediate effect on freedom in many states, since the South had a separate government with different laws.

The state of Texas was the last state to continue to allow slavery after it had been abolished in all other states. Then, on this day in 1865, exactly three years after Congress officially outlawed slavery, a Union general and 2,000 troops arrived by ship into Galveston, Texas, to announce to that the North had won the war, that the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect, and he would be there to enforce it by military means. With this, the last remaining slaves in the nation were finally freed. And it's because of this event that today is an official holiday in about three dozen states, called "Juneteenth" day. Some of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations in the nation are in Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Chandler, Arizona; and San Francisco, California. They're traditionally jubilant festivals, which revolve around big picnics.

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