But Juneteenth IS important. There's a great opinion piece on the CNN website, Juneteenth, as much as the Fourth of July, is America's true birthday
Every step we make to move forward on race in America, you have forces on the right who want to reverse that progress, and even now they are attempting to ban teaching of our history.Juneteenth 2022 matters now more than ever. So far, we have only scratched the surface of what this holiday potentially allows all Americans to explore. I grew up listening to stories of Juneteenth in New York City from Black Texan transplants in the Big Apple. They made me understand, for the first time, the intimate links between the past and present.
As a federal holiday, Juneteenth now offers a window for Americans into understanding how the political is also personal. The Black folk who bled for democracy -- during and after the Civil War, across generations of racial injustice during a century of Jim Crow racial segregation, fighting heroically in World Wars, protesting on domestic battlefields for civil rights -- are as crucial to our national story as the heroes of the American Revolution. Their legacies surround us, opening a deeper faith in America's democratic values and history than the forces that would have us bury the past in order to control the future.
For now, the extraordinary and continuing crisis of race and democracy in America shows no signs of abating. The histories that are being suppressed by GOP legislation are, in fact, profoundly American ones.
The highest example of patriotism is not a sanitized version of American history, popularized after the Civil War in "Lost Cause" nostalgia that redefined a war to end slavery as a battle over states' rights -- glossing over racial violence, greed and exploitation of Black labor in favor of more sepia-toned images of a pastoral American landscape that in fact, never truly existed.
Yet the very fact that America now officially commemorates Juneteenth is still a sign of hopeful, if simultaneously fragile, racial progress. The first holiday in the nation's history that reckons directly with racial slavery and the Black contribution to American freedom, Juneteenth serves as an annual reminder of the enormous power and potential of a multiracial democracy that remains in many ways as fraught in our time as it was during Reconstruction.
As the nation prepares, in only four short years from now, to celebrate 250 years of independence, it is worth remembering that Juneteenth, as much as the Fourth of July, represents American democracy's true birthday.
The fight never ceases.