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Sunday, June 20, 2021

WHAT JUNETEENTH MEANS

 What Juneteenth means to Rumpole. 

Before this week....nothing. Or almost nothing. Memorial Day holiday would come, and then we would plunge into June, the summer vacation beckoning, the thought perhaps we could squeeze in a trial in June and a motion to suppress in early July before repairing to the Continent or a cool river out West to spend the end of July and August in some place other than the South Florida heat. 

"Juneteenth" would pop up in some internet articles in the last few years. Ask Rumpole in 2010 about Juneteenth or any time before that year and you would be met with a blank stare. 

We will spare you the self congratulatory details on our race based accomplishments. Those are meaningless in light of the cultural blindness one polymath blogger exhibited. 

So what does it mean that we can tell you with excruciating details the actions of the Fourth Infantry division in the Marne in July, 1918, or in Normandy in June 1944, but did not know that it took two years after the Emancipation Proclamation  for slaves in Texas to be free? We can tell you the actions of soldiers of the North and South at the Battle of Antietam, but we did not know until last week that Union General Gordon Granger and his men arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1885 to tell the population that the war was over and the slaves had been freed. 

In a Country that celebrates freedom and independence from the British,  the celebration of freedom and independence of one set of Americans from another was a complete unknown. 

We are strong because of our ideals. We are stronger and better because we put our mistakes on the front page. From the Pentagon papers to the impeachment of presidents, self introspection and correction makes a democracy stronger. 

What Juneteenth means to one part of America is the celebration of the freedom of their ancestors from the monstrosity of slavery, a concept completely antithetical to a democracy- and yet something that to our great national shame existed and thrived. 

What Juneteenth means to us is the knowledge that we know nothing about the struggles of our fellow Americans.  We do not understand what it means to be the great...(as as many as needed) grandchild of a slave. It is not in our DNA or our cultural awareness. We can write powerfully against racism. We know nothing of what it feels like to be a child of a slave. 

Given the choice of knowledge without an understanding of what we do not know - which may be another way of saying "ignorance" we choose awareness of the  vast array of things we do not know anything about.  

Like Juneteenth. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It should be called Emancipation Day. The exact date, like Xmas, is really unknown, but the fact is not. And it should have come well before MLK day, which was, like joining Lincoln and Washington's birthdays on a Monday in February, a sop to the skiing industry and Florida tourism. But like all holidays, the true meaning will very soon be forgotten only to be replaced by a genuflection to the ultimate American religion: crass commercialism. Think about it: the US Open, Father's Day, and the first day of summer all crammed into one three day weekend of inebriation and overindulgence. God Bless America!