Juneteenth should kick off a fortnight of freedom
Celebrating Juneteenth should not be a divisive issue. Instead, it should be the commencement of a fortnight of freedom ending with the Fourth of July. Tying the two independence days together might help our country recognize both the exceptional principles behind its founding and our historical failures living up to those ideals.
Now, with a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill supported by most members of Congress, including the entire Colorado delegation, maybe we might be headed down that path. It would be a welcome relief.
Frequently derided as a “fake holiday” in the past, Juneteenth is a reminder that the freedom we celebrate on the Fourth of July has never been a perfect freedom. Instead, it is something that requires constant work and attention and correction.
The holiday commemorates the day Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln two years earlier. Until that point, local leaders in Texas refused to free slaves regardless of Lincoln’s command.
It is the two years that is particularly notable.
Neither Lincoln’s edict nor the end of the Civil War actually produced the freedom they espoused. Neither did the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, which would be ratified by December 1865.
It took direct action in Texas itself.