Reading List: Juneteenth Edition
Happy Friday! Today is Juneteenth, celebrating the day in 1895 when a Union general in Galveston, Texas finally announced the orders that all Texas slaves were free. This isn’t a holiday I learned about in school in Canada, which I mention to acknowledge my newbieness on discussing the day and the likelihood that I will say things awkwardly and without context, and because I didn’t realize that this day predated the ratification of the thirteenth amendment on December 6, 1865, officially abolishing slavery across the U.S. And despite what POTUS is claiming, he is not the reason the day is so widely recognized this year: that would be 2020’s remarkable groundswell of protest against systemic racism and police brutality rallying around a day observed by civil rights activists for decades.
Anyhoo, I don’t know enough and I look forward to learning more, so here’s what I’m reading this morning:
Juneteenth (The New York Times) - If, like me, you didn’t know much about this holiday, start with this entire gorgeous interactive NYT collection of Black voices describing what Juneteenth means to them, to their families, to our communities, and to our shared history, alongside archival images of Black Americans celebrating the day over the last century and a half. I specifically draw your attention to ‘Dear White Women’: The Public Classroom of Rachel Cargle.
Kellie Carter Jackson, Black Joy—Not Corporate Acknowledgment—Is the Heart of Juneteenth (The Atlantic) - As I mentioned, Juneteenth was not a holiday I was very familiar with. This year, working with clients on their Juneteenth observances, I became more familiar. But, as this piece points out, this isn’t a new holiday, it’s just a new holiday to most whites. So like Pride, while it’s great to see more widespread recognition by corporate America, considering the profound impact it has on culture, it’s important to get back to basics and learn WHY it has been recognized in Black communities for so long.
Jelani Cobb, Juneteenth and the Meaning of Freedom (The New Yorker) - I haven’t finished this piece yet, but its subhead struck me: “Emancipation is a marker of progress for white Americans, not black ones”; after all, white people were the ones who had to figure out that owning other human beings as property is immoral and despicable. Cobb aligns the creation of Juneteenth with Reagan’s Philadelphia, MS speech, and how Trump changed his original plans for a Juneteenth rally in Tulsa (site of the finally-infamous Tulsa Race Massacre.)
Michael E. Ruane, Original ‘Juneteenth’ order found in the National Archives (The Washington Post) - I wouldn’t be a good history nerd if I didn’t direct us to newly found primary sources into the National Archives.
Have a reflective day, y’all. And be kind to each other.