On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas were informed that they were free two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery. The date eventually became a holiday that marked the official ending of slavery in America. It’s a holiday that should take precedent over July 4 and Cinco De Mayo for Blacks in America.
But while Juneteenth serves as a time where Blacks can celebrate freedom, America remains a nation that is deeply troubled by racism 152 years later. On the day before the Juneteenth holiday, the nation was rocked by another Black person who was killed by police. Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of three, was shot and killed by police in Seattle after she called 911 for help.
Two days before Lyles was shot to death by police, the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castille, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of murder. Yanez killed Castille with his 4-year-old daughter and his wife in the car. Castille joined a long list of Black Americans who were killed by a police officer who was later acquitted.
Along with the murders of unarmed Black men by police, Blacks are more likely to be arrested and face longer prison sentences. There are currently over 1 million Blacks who are in the prison systems in America. Bias laws such as mandatory minimums along with private prison systems have led to the mass incarceration of Blacks.
And the Trump Administration will ensure that private prisons continue to thrive. One year after the Obama Administration denounced the use of private prisons by the federal government, Trump has made it a point to endorse the use of private prisons. The private prison corporation, GEO Group, gave Trump $250k for his inauguration and $225k to his super PAC.
The federal government’s backing of the private prison system is similar to investing in a new age slavery.
So as we celebrate Juneteenth and Emancipation of slaves, it’s important to understand that true freedom has yet to be obtained for Blacks in a country that is still haunted by racism.