In the cyclonic news cycle that has become the new normal in 2020, you may have missed something in the last few days. Something good, for a change.

This week, President Trump has come around to supporting the establishment of a national holiday on June 19th, the date that the Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the president who advises him on issues of race told the Mcclatchy news agency, “The president listened to a lot of different stakeholders who have championed it being very important in the community.”

On June 19th (Juneteenth) of this year, President Trump released a statement on the significance of the day.

“Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation.  It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our Nation’s unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness,” the statement read.

“All men are created equal by the hand of God, endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These words form the heart of what Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the ‘promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.’  The celebration of Juneteenth marks an important milestone in the hard-fought journey to make good on that promise for all Americans.”

Earlier in the year, the national holiday took a back burner to more pragmatic measures meant to expand opportunities for minorities.

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“Juneteenth as a holiday is important,” Smith told McClatchy. “But the historic disparities are more important. People want success and opportunity more so than a holiday, and so we didn’t want to do that just in a vacuum, because we thought that the disparities that the president is trying to fix are a lot more important than just declaring a holiday.”

“But the holiday is important as well. So we wanted to make sure that whatever platform we put out was holistic in nature, and that’s what the president’s going to deliver tomorrow,” Smith said.

The president set out Friday for Atlanta  to give a speech themed, “Black Economic Empowerment.” Highlighted by McClatchy were commitments to be made by Trump to effort the Juneteenth national holiday, create 3 million new jobs for Black Americans and push for an influx of capital for black communities.

Admittedly, politics surround everything and in 2020 it seems that more agendas, opportunistic endeavors and cultural makeovers are converging all at once.

That said, it is remarkable that we have not celebrated, as a nation, the emancipation of slaves.  It is a victory for every American.  It was not the end of injustice but it was the crucial first step, undergirded by the bloody civil war which took the country to the brink.

Juneteenth is something to celebrate.  It commemorates the casting-off of the most egregious element of this nation’s original sin.  It is a day that can and should unite us all and we are in dire need of such a day.



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