This year millions of Americans, myself included, are observing today in a way they never have before. It is the day traditionally celebrated by African Americans to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that slavery was abolished. News traveled slowly before radio, smart phones, the Internet, and 24 hour news networks. The Confederacy had surrendered two months prior to the announcement in Galveston that day. And it was more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many companies have announced today will be a holiday for employees. Regardless of whether or not one has to work today, it is a good day for all of us to think about the struggle for racial equality and justice. From the perspective of the first Juneteenth in Galveston, we have come a long way. However as the events of the past month have reminded all of us, sadly we still have a long way to go.
In the spirit of the day I wanted to share links to two of the most important documents in the history of racial equality in this country.
The first is the document that made Juneteenth possible, the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863.
The second is Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written on April 16, 1963. It is a powerful reminder from one of the giants of the 20th century that in the year the country marked the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the fight for justice and equality was far from over, just as it unfortunately remains so today.