Letter: Celebrate Juneteenth | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Celebrate Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, Union troops led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were free. Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two and half years earlier, the concentration of the war in the east prohibited its enforcement by Union troops in Texas. But upon arriving in Galveston, Gen. Granger issued General Order Number 3, which read:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

One hundred and fifty-six years have passed since the full emancipation of African-American slaves, and the road to equality has been challenged to say the least. But throughout that time, Juneteenth has been recognized primarily in African-American communities to celebrate their emancipation. According to Juneteenth.com, Juneteenth is a celebration of African-American freedom, achievement and to encourage “continued self-development and respect for all cultures.”

Today, Juneteenth is thankfully becoming more nationally recognized and celebrated across all races and cultures. At the same time, there are institutional forces in America working against the spirit of Juneteenth.

To preserve the meaning and importance of this date, we must acknowledge how racism is currently being rebranded to keep Americans divided. Policies in many of our schools, agencies and businesses are using labels such as “privileged,” “marginalized,” “oppressor” and “underrepresented” to balkanize people. These policies do nothing more than perpetuate soft bigotry, victimhood and tokenism that have no place in America. Instead of subverting all the progress gained since June 19, 1865, we must look forward and celebrate African-American freedom and achievement.

Although it is too late to plan an official celebration in Steamboat Springs, the City Council and Chamber should plan an official Juneteenth celebration of African-Americans in 2022. But this Saturday, we should use our individual picnics and barbecues to acknowledge the significance of Juneteenth, understand the horrors of racism and celebrate the triumph of African-Americans in the face of injustice. Even more, join the Colorado GOP Vice Chair Priscilla Rahn from 1 to 2 p.m. for a Facebook livestream at Rahn for Education.

Pete Wood

Routt County Republicans Central Committee chair

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