Why Juneteenth?


I received a series of questions from an old friend, the underlying theme is Why Juneteenth?

Hi Roger—

I’m thinking about Juneteenth today:  it’s being described as “the newest holiday” but I’m not sure whether it counts as an actual holiday.

Per the Pew Research Center via MSN: “Some 28 states and the District of Columbia made the date a public holiday, analysts revealed. State workers were given the day off with full pay, and state government offices were closed in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.”

So the banks were closed, and the mail wasn’t delivered. There have always been holidays, including Presidents Day and MLK Day, where states and private entities have chosen not to participate.
The implication is that it’s something to celebrate
Truth is always something to, if not celebrate, then to honor.
What I’ve heard suggests that it’s about slaves being kept in the dark about emancipation for a couple of years before anyone bothered to tell them.
Somehow, it seems unlikely that something so big could be kept secret for so  long.
“A couple of years” goes back to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. As the National Archives notes: “Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. Most importantly, the freedom it promised depended upon Union (United States) military victory.

“Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.”

The bona fides of June 19, 1865, are well documented. Also, I’ve been to Galveston, TX, which is on a barrier island.

Wars are complicated

So, formalities aside, wasn’t it all over, literally, but the shouting?

“It would be easy to think so in our world of immediate communication, but as Granger and the 1,800 bluecoats under him soon found out, news traveled slowly in Texas. Whatever Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia, the Army of the Trans-Mississippi had held out until late May, and even with its formal surrender on June 2, a number of ex-rebels in the region took to bushwhacking and plunder.

“That’s not all that plagued the extreme western edge of the former Confederate states. Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana, and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.”

Also:  “Without the forceful appearance of Union soldiers, Black Texans had remained imprisoned within the convulsive clutches of a dying Confederacy.” So even if people had heard the news, it “held little practical meaning so long as the state remained under Confederate control.”

I’m not sure what there is to celebrate about waiting as long as possible to let the enslaved know they were “free.”

 This is people owning their own freedom.  “The year following 1865, freedmen in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of ‘Jubilee Day’ on June 19. Juneteenth commemorations featured music, barbecues, prayer services, and other activities in the ensuing decades. As Black people migrated from Texas to other parts of the country, the Juneteenth tradition spread.” This Daily Kos piece addresses some of this. 
So its tradition predates MLK Day, or Black History Month, which began as Negro History Week in 1926.
What if
I also wonder what Lincoln might have been thinking about the Emancipation Proclamation: Did he realize how complicated it was?  Did he know but just put off the details for later and leave nearly everything else as it was?
That’s a more layered question. Would the Freedmen’s Bureaus have existed longer under Lincoln?  Would there have been more punitive actions against the Confederate states before re-entering the Union to prevent them from essentially going back to the status quo, with Jim Crow replacing slavery? There are probably more books about Lincoln than anyone, save maybe Jesus Christ.
I think the Library Of Congress piece is pretty straightforward. Obviously, freedom is not a straight line. The struggles of the 1940s, 1950s, and later were a direct result of freedom denied.
As many have noted, we are to form a “more perfect union.” It ain’t finished yet, and probably never will be. It operates in fits and starts with two steps forward and one or three steps back (see women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, etc., etc., etc.)
I spend less time thinking about what could have been done in the 1860s and 1870s because we can’t change it. Only the future we can change. Maybe.
Here’s a cartoon that may be too much on the nose.

Juneteenth and other rambling; Smilin’ Ed

When Languages Go Extinct.

Pic was taken by a friend’s SIL in June 2021 and used with permission

‘Epic Failure of Humanity’: Global Displaced Population Hits All-Time High

The Delta variant is serious. Here’s why it’s on the rise. and The Perils Of Covid Complacency

Former WH adviser Fiona Hill considered pulling a fire alarm during Helsinki Summit—to shut Trump up.

The Political, Legal, and Moral Minefield That Trump Left for Merrick Garland and Cleaning Up After Him.

In 2020, 881 active Secret Service employees were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Why Has Local News Collapsed? Blame Readers. Despite all the impassioned pleas to salvage local news coverage, the reality is there’s a demand-side problem.

How Some Americans Are Breaking Out of Political Echo Chambers

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison Heat and PACE, a program meant to pay for environmentally-friendly home renovations.

When Undoing Is Not Enough — Repairing Harms Inflicted on Immigrant Children.

How the world ran out of everything.

Juneteenth/Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory is the New Boogeyeman.

Why do people hate Cathode Ray Tubes so much?

Cartoon: Attack of the critical race theory and Cartoon: History for white people.

How New York’s capital city splintered along racial lines and Black elders in the Capital Region sit down with a young journalist of color to share their stories, experiences, and reflections on being Black in America.

The sad story of southern slave owners, as told in 8th-grade history books

Tulsa isn’t the only race massacre you were never taught in school. Here are others.

Juneteenth is symbolic. Don’t confuse it with racial justice.

GOPUSA Eagle: A Federal Holiday Isn’t Enough; Mayors Commit To Reparations.

Per Newsmax – Sen. Cotton: Juneteenth ‘Fitting Addition to Our National Holidays’ So Let’s Celebrate Momentum of a Growing Racial Justice Movement.

The rat

Staying up too late? Welcome to revenge bedtime procrastination. People are so desperate for time to call their own — even if it comes at 2 a.m. — they’re exhausting themselves. (I’ve done this in 2021. Not recommended.)

What is the only cardinal number whose letters are in alphabetical order in English?

Smilin' Ed complete

I was at my local comic book store recently and I saw copies of the Smilin’ Ed collection pictured, by Raoul Vezina and Tom Skulan. Diamond Distribution is now carrying the book, so you can buy it from a source other than Amazon. Guess which duck has the last word in the book?

A piece about Don Rittner, who, among other things, worked on an environmental cartoon with Raoul.

Fire tore through historian John Wolcott’s documents, maps. I’ve known John and Linda Becker for years.

Slipping of the Mother Tongue: When Languages Go Extinct.

Jeopardy!’s Apology for an ‘Outdated, Offensive and Inaccurate’ Clue.

The Beatles: Get Back — An Exclusive Deep Dive Into Peter Jackson’s Revelatory New Movie.

I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated.

Theater needs comedy, Ken Levine says. But I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.

On Ned Beatty and HEAR MY SONG

Frank Bonner, WKRP in Cincinnati’s Herb Tarlek Dies at 79.

Danish Road Safety Council:  Helmet has always been a good idea.

Now I Know: Who is Q (James Bond Version)? and Why You Probably Prefer  European Chocolate and The Man Who Jetted to Millions and When The Faucets Ran Red and When I Learned A Lot About Doughnuts and When Multiple Streams Can Be Taxing.


The New Classics  – virtual Broadway and Broadway’s back

Coverville 1361: Cover Stories for Cole Porter and Tony Levin.

Club 27 – MonaLisa Twins.

An American Symphony by Michael Kamen, from the score to the film Mr. Holland’s Opus.

See You in September by several different artists.

The Way We Were – Aubrey Logan.

Answer: 40

Black-focused for Juneteenth

support Black communities

JuneteenthIn the weeks following George Floyd’s death, and the subsequent protests, my e-mail has been overwhelmed with black-focused products and services that we should be reading/watching/buying.

This is not a complaint, mind you, though it is a bit overwhelming. It is amazing how quickly American business has been able to pivot to a Black Lives Matter theme. It’s similar to how 90% of the TV ads seem to have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The cynical among us might have asked, “Where were these resources back in April?”

Many businesses across the country experienced theft and damage during the aftermath of the earlier protests. But despite another significant setback after months of financial strain due to coronavirus, some are siding with the protesters voicing outrage over police brutality, choosing to use the moment to help amplify the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

BTW, if you’re unfamiliar with Juneteenth: a quick summary: “June 19, 1865, marks the date that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery.” Now that a certain party has deigned to co-opt it, before bumping his rally to a day later, I find the need to mention it.

Here are just a handful of black-focused resources, beyond ones I’ve already mentioned. You are welcome to add your links in the comments.


Resources In Defense of Black Lives.
Code of Ethics for Antiracist White Allies By JLove Calderon and Tim Wise
#8CANTWAIT – a campaign to bring immediate change to policing.


Justice in June.
Five Ways to Talk to Children About Race.
How To Talk To Your Friends And Family About Race, According To Psychologists.
25 Books By Black Authors to Add to Your Reading List.

Black Lives Matter: Anti-Racism Resources Streaming for Free. “In light of the nationwide outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, movies like Just Mercy and I Am Not Your Negro are available to stream.”


Shop Black-Owned & Founded Wellness Brands: 43 Companies To Support.
Where To Donate To Support Black Communities.

Mea culpa abound

Name changes: Lady Antebellum became Lady A, stepping on the trademark of an existing black singer. The pancake syrup maker Aunt Jemina is changing its name, apparently confounding people I know IRL who are oblivious to its racist history.

Racism is a public health crisis in Boston. Mayor Martin Walsh will seek to transfer 20% of police overtime budget to social services.

Alexis Ohanian says he left Reddit board to help make a “real positive change.” He recognized his privilege with help from wife Serena Williams. “Reddit made good on its promise to hire a black board member, appointing Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.”

Google commits $175 million to racial equity with focus on black-owned businesses; Plus announces plans to improve representation and support within the company.

From 23andme: “As a leader who really cares, I feel the responsibility to not just talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, but to make meaningful changes and contributions through my own actions and how we operate at 23andMe. Our management team, Board and employee base must have greater diversity. I am ashamed to say I do not have a single black employee who is at Director level or above. Our product is euro-centric but must expand to be inclusive and equitable. We absolutely have the potential to be better. Despite our efforts, I have to honestly say that we are also part of the problem.

“I’m holding myself accountable. I’m holding 23andMe accountable. And I’m asking that our customers hold us accountable. This will include making sure that we change our hiring practices, that we make sure we give greater promotional opportunities within the company, that we dedicate resources to evolve our product to better represent all communities, and that my management team and Board have more inclusive. representation.”

Of course, some of these apologies have fallen on deaf ears. When Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman admitted, “I didn’t do enough’ when it came to diversity,” folks are saying, “Duh – we told you that at the time.”

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