Juneteenth is worth celebrating

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Today starts a weeklong celebration of a more than 150-year-old celebration that is at its core, uniquely American.

Although often associated only with the African-American community, Juneteenth is truly a celebration of what it means to be an American.

The celebration officially marks June 19, 1865, as the late arrival in Texas of news that the U.S. has passed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the South.

Email newsletter signup

The law had been signed more than two years prior, but for some still unclear reason the communication never made it to Galveston, Texas.

Interestingly, for the majority of slaves the law at the time provided hope, but no real freedom. Although signed into law in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation did not mean much to slaves still living in the Confederacy during the Civil War.

And certainly the plight of African-American citizens was not suddenly made easier after the paperwork was signed. Decades of struggle lay ahead, but the confirmation that the county’s founding principle remained — all men (and women) are created equal, endowed by God with certain unalienable rights.

The existence of the Emancipation Proclamation and even its late arrival to Texas are key steps in our country’s history and thus worthy of celebration and honor by all Americans, not merely those whose ancestors were first affected by the law.