There was less Juneteenth to celebrate in 2019 than there was in 1865.
|Jun 20||Public post|
A Forward Feature
originally appears in The Forward | @ellisonreport
With fresh eyes, some might argue there was less Juneteenth to celebrate in 2019 than there was in 1865.
Perhaps that is true. Perhaps not: there’s a bit of selfish audaciousness in that reflection, comparing the lives of 21st century African Americans who, at least, can exercise basic freedom of movement, to the lives of 19th century Black slaves who were in constant, state-sanctioned bondage.
We’ve got smartphones and Netflix in 2019; our ancestors were viciously robbed, on an endless loop, of basic human rights. Yet, we’ll get those who might argue “well, what’s so different about now?” Did anything much change other than the highly digitized, Instagrammicky, gig-netic society we have now?
Few get geeked anymore on the milestones, and this year is rich with them. It’s been 400 years since the first Black slaves arrived on American colonial shores in Virginia, 65 years since Brown v. Board, 55 years since passage of the Civil Rights Act and we’ll be heading next year into a 55th birthday for passage of the Voting Rights Act.
But, the question looms: Where are we now? Or, in some respects, like the grumpy kids during a bumpy road-trip in the back seat: Are we there yet?