Today is Juneteenth. It’s a holiday with deep roots in the black community in the United States and in Texas in particular, and it celebrates the end of slavery in this country, coming after the end of the Civil War.
There’s a decent chance you had never heard of Juneteenth until the last week or so — as a former history teacher, I weep at that reality, but such as it is.
The timing of Juneteenth amid ongoing protests advocating for racial equality and justice, and in particular focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement, has put the holiday in a new light. Previously, it was a holiday, aside from Texas, largely celebrated within the African American community, but this year the occasion is giving the wider population a moment to commemorate, to reflect, and to work towards equality.
Los Angeles Football Club have circulated a petition this week to call for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday. The club said “The launch of the Juneteenth petitions is the first of many upcoming initiatives LAFC is pledging to take on in its commitment to foster change. The Club stands firmly in solidarity with the Black Community against all acts of racism, hatred and prejudice. LAFC will continue to support, promote equality and use their collective voice against all social injustice.”
You can find the petition and sign here.
Obviously a holiday won’t solve all the problems in the world, but one of the many inequalities in our society is that even holidays are not fully representative of the American experience and of our people. It took decades for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to be fully implemented as a federal holiday, for example. Juneteenth draws attention to the worst chapter in American history, slavery, but also celebrates freedom, one of the most cherished qualities in our country.
LAFC have a track record of dealing with hate head-on, like when they managed to eliminate a homophobic chant pretty much after one home game. If you are new to Juneteenth, please read up on it and expand your education. Then, I hope you consider signing the petition and do your part to help change our society for the better.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.