Imagine being oppressed. Like, truly oppressed.
I don’t mean taxes being too high or having trouble with the homeowner’s association. I don’t mean someone offending your delicate sensibilities about gender identity. I don’t even mean someone who works themselves to death to put food on the table.
I mean being in bondage. Slavery. No hope of individual freedom because of the color of your skin. Being nothing but mere property, in a society that considers this normal and legal. The violence, torture, and indignity of being treated less than human.
I can’t fathom that kind of oppression. Most people reading this can’t either.
But we can understand the joy in getting rid of it.
Juneteenth, or June 19, became a national holiday in 2021, marking the date when the last southern slaves living in Galveston, Texas, after the Civil War, learned they had been freed, two months after the South had surrendered. It is not a new holiday for many black Americans, who have celebrated it for over a century and a half. But it is a fairly new holiday for many who had not heard of it prior to it becoming a federal holiday two years ago.
Regardless, I think former Congressman Ron Paul summed up well the meaning of Juneteenth on the House floor in 2007, honoring a bill to commemorate the holiday.
“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support H. Con. Res. 155, legislation commemorating a monumental day in the history of liberty, Juneteenth Independence Day,” Paul said. “Juneteenth marks the events of June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, TX, learned that they were at last free men and women. The slaves of Galveston were the last group of slaves to learn of the end of slavery. Thus, Juneteenth represents the end of slavery in America.”
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) June 19, 2022
Galveston was part of Paul’s congressional district, so his words had extra significance.
“I hope all Americans will take the time to commemorate Juneteenth,” Paul added. “Friends of human liberty should celebrate the end of slavery in any country. The end of American slavery is particularly worthy of recognition since there are few more blatant violations of America’s founding principles, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, than slavery.”
“I am particularly pleased to join the recognition of Juneteenth because I have the privilege of representing Galveston,” Paul acknowledged.
While Juneteenth naturally will mean more to many black Americans given that history and the suffering, it truly is a no-brainer holiday for anyone who values human freedom to celebrate.