Bob Franken




How do we go about switching our nation’s Independence Day from July 4 to June 19? That’s when word reached Galveston, Texas, in what was then the far reaches of the Reunited States, that slavery was officially a thing of the past. Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of June 19, 1865 — two months and 10 days after the Civil War ended — when Black slaves were told that they didn’t have to serve in bondage simply because they were Black. But vestiges of slavery still exist.
On July 4, we celebrate the birth of our nation, but the only independence was for white men. The “Founders” were only putting down on paper (or parchment — it doesn’t matter) the template for the unkept promises of the Constitution.
On Juneteenth, Black slaves were “freed,” but they were not really free. Systemic racism continues to this day, because equity has not been allowed between races. We have gussied up our prejudice in all sorts of mannerly language, but the fact remains that since the nation’s real beginning for everyone, June 19, the successors of slaves have had to crash through one blockade erected by white people after another:
Segregation forces them away from overlapping basic rights: an education, economic opportunity, even the right to vote (although that one is being reversed) and safety from trigger-happy cops (although videos recorded with modern technology are exposing that one as too often a tragic fantasy).

Nevertheless, as a country, we have “advanced” to the point that white demonstrators of goodwill join the people of color jamming our streets screaming “Black lives matter!” — which translates to “Enough is enough” — after one too many law-enforcement killing. That would seem to be obvious; Black lives do matter. But intolerant blockheads have demonstrated the insidious deception of rhetoric, being led in chants of “All lives matter!” or even “Blue lives matter!” That would seem obvious too, but it’s actually disingenuous, a distorted way to subtly, in their minds at least, say one thing and really mean something else. Racism.
When Juneteenth was made a federal holiday this year, it was a hastily timed afterthought. It finally occurred the day before the actual holiday, after decades of campaigning, when the legislation was signed by a friendly president, with unanimous support from Congress, even from the unfriendliest of politicians.
One would think that, as a whole, Black people would resent white privilege — and many do—but many do not. And Juneteenth, finally recognized as a long-overdue celebration, welcomes everyone to make next year’s hoopla worthy of the attention it deserves.
Right now, the blockheads have responded to the teaching of slavery’s importance to America by forbidding its discussion in the classroom — in other words, by distorting history. They brand any discussion as “Critical Race Theory,” which sounds academic, but it’s really just another resentment to exploit for FNC, a Fox News Contrivance.
It’s fashionable to try to make up lost ground by adding to the calendar: Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month. If you declared a national holiday for every oppressed group in forming what we are today, you’d run out of days. But slavery is the greatest stain of all for this country, and its recognition is what Juneteenth is about. Now it is squeezed into the summer schedule.
We will not move Independence Day from July 4, but only through recognizing our true legacy can white folks, black folks and every other kind of woke folks combine to be a truly United States.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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