Elect Debbie Harrington

Elect Debbie Harrington

Juneteenth, Thoughts On A Call to Humanity

Juneteenth remembers General Gordon Granger arriving in Galveston, Texas purposed to tell slaves that the war was over and they were free. It is an afterthought that that great day was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves.

Contemporary education has taught that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863. It happened that if slaves could escape to the North they would be free. It was not until the war was over May 9, 1865 and the news reached the population, June 19, 1865 that slaves were actually known to be free. That was Juneteenth.

In today’s pandemic and racial crises Juneteenth has sparked a different response, emotion, or thirst to not just remember, but to act in the spirit of freedom. Although it has called out some well known battle cries such as rights, justice and equity, Juneteenth is quite new this time in its cry for freedom, to which, life has been given by the death of Mr. George Floyd, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Ms. Breonna Taylor and countless other African Americans.

The coronavirus proved to disproportionately affect African Americans. The jobs they have tend to be low wage, labor intensive and unable to work from home, which, generally did not take them out of unprotected work environments. Health care disparities were amplified in this pandemic. Lack of coverage kept individuals from seeking health care and prevented access to testing and early detection. The disease was devastating to those who had underlying conditions of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, the very illnesses that tend to plague the African American community. The extenuating stresses due to coronavirus such as child care, job loss, finances and having to work from home while assuming the responsibility for student education took a toll on tolerance. After months of stay-at-home orders people were at their edge and Minneapolis happened.

Former Officer Derek Chauvin of Minneapolis, MN police force killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The video footage captured Mr. Floyd’s last pleas for his life and as he called for his deceased mother to help him. This death happened after two vigilante citizens murdered Ahmaud Arbery and a debacle drug bust cost the life of Breonna Taylor. Police brutality targeted African Americans and it was brazen.

Unlike the peaceful Civil Rights Movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. days and the once turbulent racial advocacy of Malcom X, the response to the pandemic and racial crises has been persistent and vehemently resistant to inaction through protests and uprisings. The whole world became “sick and tired” of being shut-in and shut-out at the same time. The world with all of its pinned up stresses from an uncontrollable pandemic and a long drawn out history of abuse of people, police brutality, poor education, mass incarceration, healthcare disparities woke up and said “Enough!” Every culture finally saw the attack on one people as an attack on all. Juneteenth arrived crying out for a freedom like never before, a freedom for all people, justice, release from hatred, recompense, accountability and action. This time Juneteenth is not just a point of remembrance, it is a call to action, to responsibility, to humanity and to achieve, at last, true freedom.