ATTORNEY FRANCYS JOHNSON MARKS JUNETEENTH
Calls for Celebration Mixed with Demands for More Progress
Attorney Francys Johnson marks Juneteenth with a call to the communities to celebrate while not relenting in the demand for more progress. "This is an extraordinary time brought into being by the courageous response of young people to the extrajudicial killings of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and Amhaud Arbery. These are the latest casualties in state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Each death exposes a different angle to the same problem of white supremacy as related to the criminal justice system. At the end of the death, true freedom for all Americans is only possible with the death of white supremacy. Let Juneteenth encourage all to demand more progress knowing that none of us are really free until all of us are free."
Juneteenth is a special holiday that recognizes the date when news of emancipation finally reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger along with more than 1,800 federal troops arrived to take control of Texas, nearly two months after the end of the Civil War, bringing freedom to the last remaining enslaved people in the deepest parts of the Southern United States.
According to the National Archives, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the third year of the Civil War. However, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon the Union (United States) military victory.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.
Since 1619, enslaved people have fought to secure their own liberty. The Emancipation Proclamation confirmed their insistence that the war for the Union must become a war for freedom. It added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to slavery’s final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom.
Today, this special holiday has taken on new meaning due to the continued loss of Black lives and freedom protests all around the world.