We are celebrating Juneteenth, aka Jubilee Day or Freedom Day. This is a day to celebrate the official freedom of black slaves at the end of the Civil War. In order to understand the magnitude & importance of this holiday we have to understand its history.
This begins with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Now word had not gotten out about freeing slaves to all states, because believe it or not, Twitter didn’t exist. They did have a bird based messaging system called carrier pigeons, which I believe worked on the power of magic & magnetism – 2 things we as humans don’t understand. The last state that still had slavery after the Proclamation was signed was Texas. There is speculation that this was because 4 score and 7 years were not large enough measurements for Texas to care about.
In 1865, 2 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, 1800 Federal Troops arrived in Galveston, TX to ensure that black slaves would be freed and taken care of. This is probably the only time I’m going to say this, but hot damn, “give it up for the troops!” General Gordon Granger landed on Texas soil to read General Orders No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” See how succinct that is. We need more legislation that just says it like it is. “Under General Order No. 1538, the citizens of America have a message that under the decree that this is a government for, of and by the people, we say FUCK THE POLICE!”
Now, it took 2 and half years for Americans to go “Oh fuck, did we forget about Texas? Shit someone get to Texas before they fuck up this Emancipation for us!” This is why Texas probably has a Napoleonic complex as a state. They make themselves so big so we don’t forget them. In today’s society this news wouldn’t have taken 2 years, it would be a tweet and in seconds every city in Texas would have a block party so large that the words “the South will Rise again” would be drowned out by Kendrick LaMarr telling you to shut the fuck up!
The General Order also said that freed black folks should stay on as employees of the plantations. They need to now get paid for the work they do. For a short while, the United States Government was basically the Union for the freed slaves! It’s fun when the 1800s out lefts 2020. Even under this order, some slave masters did not free their slaves! They instead kept their slaves until the end of the Harvest season. It is an interesting contrast that rich, white, landowners didn’t get shot in face for blatantly breaking the law! They’re just seen as good Capitalists that were standing up for their right to earn money…off the labor of others.
Juneteenth celebrations usually include barbecues, parades and music. It’s basically a block party. BUT it wasn’t widely celebrated or even recognized as a holiday in most states despite how historic of an event it is! It wasn’t until 1979 when Texas first recognized Juneteeth as an official holiday. This was Texas saying “See that! We can be first! See how we’re first! Never forget us! NEVER FORGET US!”
Pennsylvania just made it an official holiday in 2020. There is still a discussion in Congress about making it a National Holiday. It took about 38 seconds to make Fourth of July a national holiday, where a bunch white folks drink too much, blow shit up and wreck the streets with no consequences. In over 150 years, we’re still discussing whether it’s cool for Black people to take the day off to celebrate their freedom with barbecues, music, speeches, fanfare and no explosives!
Juneteenth is considered as America’s Second Independence Day and yet there is debate on making this a National Holiday. For Fucks Sake, more Congresspeople are willing celebrate Flag Day than Juneteenth! No one cares about your country’s brand in cloth form! The honor of the flag went away when you put the stars and stripes on underwear and sold it at Walmart.
Recognizing Juneteenth as a national Holiday would mean that you’d have to recognize that as a country slavery is part of our past. Its permeated our present with prison slavery and income divide and ignoring this is ensuring Congress is complicit with its future. Not only that, but it would mean that we’d have to pay people time and half for working on a national holiday & if we know anything about the federal government, it’s they’re really wise with money. If we paid people time & and half how are corporate war mongers going to fill their gold bathtubs full of money to feel real love!?
Whether our corrupt leaders say so or not, I say, going forward, we celebrate Juneteenth as citizens of a country standing with our brothers & sisters in solidarity! We can recognize our past, learn to make our present better and our future brighter.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!