I have noticed so much coverage of Juneteenth, and it’s about time attention was paid; however, it’s so often lazily referred to as the day slavery ended in the United States.

In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on Jan. 1, 1863, What Juneteenth observes is the much-delayed notice to slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865, nearly 2½ years after their freedom had been delivered. The news had been deliberately kept from the enslaved in order to maintain their free labor for their owners.

My wish is that we would understand what we are repeating without delving into the true comprehension of the horror of remaining under the inhuman system of white supremacy for just short of 30 months.

Can you imagine if such news had been withheld from you for that length of time?

During that time, how many families had been disrupted, children sold away, parents separated, women abused?

Bottom line: It’s not the end of slavery, which ended Jan. 1, 1863 – it’s the date the news was delivered to the last of the enslaved, who had been free for a long time. It’s just that the information had been withheld in a very deliberate effort.

We should not be repeating incorrect information just because it’s a simple shorthand.

Denise Shames


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