June 21, 2022


“A year after President Joe Biden signed legislation making June 19 the nation’s 12th federal holiday, people across the U.S. gathered at events filled with music, food and fireworks… Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to order freedom for the enslaved people of the state — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered in the Civil War.” AP News

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From the Left

The left focuses on the work still to be done to achieve racial equality.

“‘The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor,’ Garrison Frazier told Gen. William T. Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in January 1865. The general had asked Black Americans in Savannah, Ga., what could be done for them after their liberation by Union troops. Frazier, chosen by Black clergy in Savannah to represent them, made it clear that access to land was their best, and only, option for their communities to flourish…

“Shortly afterward, General Sherman issued Special Field Order Number 15, which granted the newly freed Black Americans of the coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida roughly 40 acres of land. But less than a year later, Johnson reversed the order and returned the land to the plantation owners. Such an event should be remembered on Juneteenth, as a way to explain the possibilities that the holiday itself represents.”

Robert Greene II, The Nation

“[A century and a half later] stubborn inequities still permeate national life. Not only have academic achievement gaps persisted, they’ve been exacerbated by the catastrophic learning loss brought on by the pandemic. Even as the national unemployment rate sits at a near-historic low of 3.6%, Black joblessness lags at 6.5%. The racial wealth gap — a pronounced failure of social policy — has only increased over the past 40 years. Meanwhile, America’s epidemic of gun violence continues to take a grimly disproportionate toll on African Americans, who experience 10 times the number of gun homicides as white Americans do…

“Slavery’s formal end was a grand achievement for the nation, and should be celebrated as such. Juneteenth marks the day when America at last began living up to its founding creed. It’s right to cheer that moment, while recognizing that, as far as the nation has come, much unfinished business remains.”

The Editors, Bloomberg

“Systemic discrimination in housing and lending policies has been a prime engine of social and economic inequality among communities of color. Black households own about 2.9% of wealth in the US, only slightly more than they owned in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law. For perspective, the median White household today has about $188,000 in wealth, compared to $24,100 and $36,100 for Black and Latino families, respectively. Without interventions, researchers project that by 2053, the median wealth for Black households will fall to $0, and by 2073, median Latino wealth will meet the same fate…

“Government, corporate and civic leaders must support the development of mixed-income, mixed-use communities, which attract all income levels and simultaneously serve residential, commercial and civic purposes…

“Equity-based initiatives, such as first generation down payment assistance… and special purpose credit programs, which help lenders and nonprofits tailor lending programs to specifically meet the needs of economically disadvantaged consumers, are [also] vital… As we celebrate Juneteenth and the American Dream of homeownership, we must come together as a nation to pave a new way forward.”

Jonathan Reckford and Lisa Rice, CNN

From the Right

The right focuses on the progress that has been made since slavery was abolished.

The right focuses on the progress that has been made since slavery was abolished.

“America marks our second Juneteenth national holiday Monday. Some will focus on the severe pain and death that slavery inflicted on blacks between 1619 and 1865. It would be far more useful, however, to celebrate so much that black Americans have accomplished since the original Juneteenth

“Madam C.J. Walker became America’s first female millionaire entrepreneur. She earned her fortune in the early 1900s by marketing hair-care products to fellow blacks. By selling Afro Sheen before Afro Sheen, she made enough money to buy a mansion in posh Westchester, near that of John D. Rockefeller… Black musicians Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington co-fathered jazz… The Tuskegee Airmen bombed Adolf Hitler to bits and buried beneath smoldering rubble the notion that blacks lacked the brains to fly…

“Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were US secretaries of state. Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were US attorneys general. Kamala Harris is vice president. And Barack Obama spent eight years as president of the United States. If he were alive, Dr. Martin Luther King likely would argue that — while room to rise remains — his Dream has come true. Beyond these famous names, millions of black Americans use their freedom to improve themselves, their loved ones, their communities and this nation.”

Deroy Murdock, New York Post

Dated But Relevant: “The Right should fundamentally embrace Juneteenth because it celebrates a crucial step in the fulfillment of America's founding principles and our founding dream. It does not displace Independence Day but strengthens what it represents…

“Without Independence Day, Juneteenth (self-governed people finally fighting for and achieving liberty for those wronged by our country's governance) could have never happened, and without what Juneteenth represents, Independence Day would mean far less than its current celebration: the beginning of a republic self-governed by men created equal by God.”

Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

Juneteenth celebrates America at a time when celebrating being American has become a progressive minefield. Thanksgiving has been recast as a day of Native American mourning. Columbus Day has been derided as an event honoring mass genocide, with statues of Christopher Columbus himself defaced and even beheaded…

“Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — men who literally forged a nation — have been recast as little more than slave owners. Even slavery itself has been coopted and politicized by dubious scholarship to position it as the raison d’etre for America’s very establishment and existence…

“While there is truth to some of these grievances, the left’s extreme positions leave no room for complexity, nuance and often historical fact. And this tide of anti-Americanism has been damaging to our nation: In 2001, 87% said they were very or extremely proud to be American; 69% say that now. But Juneteenth, with its championing of American history rather than the simple cancellation of it, could help change this. It shows that, just as slavery is an indelible part of our nation’s past, so too is our commitment to reckoning with it.”

David Kaufman, New York Post

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