It may seem odd to celebrate a day that recalls the fact that enslaved Africans in Texas were among the last to know they were freed, when General Gordon Granger issued the order in Galveston two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. But for myself, Juneteenth invokes memories of church, community and family celebrations of everything good about living in brown skin.
I was lucky to have a great-grandmother who could tell the story of General Granger’s news (Order No. 3, to be exact), as told to her by her grandmother, herself born into bondage. She told me of bittersweet tears of jubilation and worry that newly freed Americans shed. My great-grandmother also instilled in her descendants a hope that each Juneteenth would bring better days for those who celebrate and remember it. Mine are certainly better than my ancestors could have ever imagined.
The challenges we face today require all our strength and mettle. People of color are branded as “traitors” for standing up for their rights. Unscrupulous state governments work to strip us of our right to vote. And in our border regions, an irredeemable administration rips children from their parents and locks them up in cages.
The struggles ahead will test us. But if you’re feeling weary today, think about my great-grandmama and know that as long as we persevere together, we can ensure that the next Juneteenth will bring better days than the last.
Happy Juneteenth, y’all. I’m proud to be in this fight with you.