June and July are months of celebration for America. On June 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation which is the end of the Civil War and African American release and freedom from Slavery. On July 4th, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. With the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln freed African Americans from over 250 years of free labor as slaves. In a sense, the Emancipation Proclamation was black folks Declaration of Independence. The 4th of July was the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 by slaveholding legislators and celebrates white Americas freedom from England. The names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence include John Adams, Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Carter Braxton, Gordon Carroll, Samuel Chase, Abraham Clark, George Clymer, William Ellery, Benjamin Franklin, William Floyd, Eldridge Gerry, Button Gwinett, Lyman Hall, John Hancock, Benjamin Harrison, John Hart, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Heyward, William Heyward, William Hooper, Stephen Hopkins, Francis Hopkinson, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Jefferson, Frances Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Philip Livingston, Thomas McKeon, Arthur Middleton, Lewis Morris, Robert Morris, Thomas Nelson, John Morrow, William Nelson, Robert Paine, John Penn, William Pace, George Read, Caesar Rodney, George Ross, Ben Rush, Edward Ruthledge, Roger Sherman, James Smith, Richard Stockton, Thomas Stone, George Taylor, Matthew Thornton, and George Walton-all white men, property owners, and slave masters.
Frederick Douglass seemed to make this point when he asked the question in his speech on Independence Day, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” In excerpts from his speech he states “Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day.”
Juneteenth (June 19) is celebrated in Texas more than any state, except now that President Joe Biden has made it a national holiday, it will be celebrated in every state. Texas is the state that two years after the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation General Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and made the announcement of the end of Slavery. Juneteenth is generally celebrated with picnics, complete with watermelon and strawberry sodas. The Fourth of July is celebrated much the same but with fireworks included.
Douglass says in his speech, “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons, and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
It could be said that Juneteenth is the African American day of freedom and liberty, and the Fourth of July is the white man’s day of celebration of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, Juneteenth has traditionally not been celebrated outside the southern United States. This is about to change.
The filing of a lawsuit to guarantee the right to vote in a case, called Georgia versus The United States, is once again about to give black folks a right guaranteed by the United States, that is a right to unfettered right to vote. Georgia has removed most of its drop boxes where people can drop off their ballots. The lawsuit will also restore the souls to the polls voting where black churches encourage and provide rides to the polls to vote right from church. Republicans, who control the vote in Georgia have reduced the voting times to fewer days, times, and hours to vote. Hopefully, the lawsuit will get rid of this, along with the ridiculous condition that voters cannot have water or snacks while waiting in lines to vote. The water and snack exclusion is ridiculous and in the lawsuit to be removed. In a case called, Shelby, the Supreme Court approved a condition to remove the pre-clearance requirement for Southern states. Basically, the condition required the states to prove they weren’t discriminating before the vote took place. That is gone and the Southern states couldn’t wait to set suppression and discrimination conditions into effect. I can’t figure out why these white folks want to act like David Duke, Ross Barnett and George Wallace so bad. It’s 2021 not 1951!
The Voting Suppression group has replaced the Drop Box and the anti-souls to the polls. The voting hour reduction has replaced the how many bubbles in a bar of soap or how many gum balls-in-a-jar tricks of the fifties. The expected results are the same. Racism is still here joined by voter suppression. I guess you got to be white and straight. Now we know how the Jews must have felt. In the meantime, I declare I am proudly Black and proudly American, so I can celebrate both Juneteenth and the 4th of July.