By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher
San Diego Voice & Viewpoint Newspaper
It was great to celebrate Juneteenth as the first National Black Holiday, other than Dr. King’s birthday. It was also great to have the rest of the country catch up with the celebration so many of us have honored and acknowledged for so many years. But there are some very important lessons to go with the acknowledgement of the Emancipation Declaration signed by President Lincoln.
First, the Emancipation Declaration was not to free all slaves, only those in the Confederate States at war with the Union. Second, when the document was signed by Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was signed by President Lincoln on January 31, 1863, 30 days after the Emancipation Proclamation. We know this took two and a half years to reach the people of Galveston, Texas. The 13th Amendment was signed, as ratified by the states, on December 6, 1865. This document included all enslaved people in the United States while making permanent law the language of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Now that we have been armed with the details, and we have had the celebrations commemorating these two great events, what do we, as individual beneficiaries of these great achievements, what do we do to safeguard these rights?
It is suggested that each of us find a way to get involved. We can do this by talking with our neighbors about the importance of all of us realizing that we are in this together. We can do this by registering to vote, not with a commitment to any party or individual, but to our own interest as we determine what that interest is on each issue before us. If it’s homelessness and the unsheltered, then who can we help and how?
Simply think of what we would want if we were in their place. If it’s an opportunity to replace a right wing radical seeking to suppress our right to vote by removing boxes for ballot pickups, or advocating for voter identification cards for the elderly or banning books from public libraries, then we should be involved. If money was being given out for voter participation, we would find a way to get it.
How about using that same initiative to safeguard our collective rights and not just the things we care about collectively as individuals? Those persons whose shoulders we stand on, all were concerned about “us” as the Black collective. Can we afford to do any less over 150 years into the freedom so many made possible with such great sacrifices? We say “No”.
Get involved beyond the celebration of Juneteenth. That was yesterday. What will you do for today and tomorrow?