Juneteenth is not a gift.
Juneteenth is earned.
Juneteenth is recognition.
Juneteenth is determination.
Juneteenth embraces the souls of Black folk.
Juneteenth honors our blues and jazz, and the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, too.
Juneteenth is Cassius Clay’s metamorphosis into Muhammad Ali.
Juneteenth voices our collective, unyielding humanity.
Juneteenth reminds us, in the words of Tony Award-winning actor André De Shields, that the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next. (“So keep climbing,” De Shields says.)
Juneteenth tells us that we ain’t really free ‘til all of us ‘n nem is free.
Juneteenth is an Independence Day-Memorial Day* – two of our most sacred holidays – remix.
“Black people created what we might call freedom in America today,” wrote history scholar Daina Ramey Berry, in her essay The Truth About Black Freedom. “That is the story we celebrate and uplift on this holiday.”
So, remember Juneteenth. Always.
(c) Bob Campbell/bobcampbellwrites.com
*The first-known Memorial Day commemoration was organized by a group of Black people freed from enslavement a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David W. Blight. Excerpt from The First Decoration Day:
Bob Campbell, an essayist and novelist, likes his bourbon neat. His debut novel, Motown Man, was published by Urban Farmhouse Press in November 2020.