Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Man, look at the time. Wednesday already and I have yet to write about Juneteenth. That's one drawback with having a weblog. Back when message boards were my obsession, and the busy summer months descended, I could cut back on my participation and rely on others to keep the conversation going. With my own blog, if I don't write, no one will. (I suppose I could ask Poodlepums to cover for me, but then she'd take over and I'll never get the blog back.) But I digress.

Saturday, June 19th, was Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. It's been around since the 19th century, but I only heard about it a few years ago. Not too surprising, since I grew up in Illinois where we're taught that slavery was personally ended by the heroic Abraham Lincoln, who also put down those rebellious southerners who dared to disrupt the Union. (They said some soldiers helped, but I personally think he just cocked his stovepipe hat, put his hands on his lapels and stared them down.) Anyway, whether I'm just more aware, or the holiday has been gaining in popularity, I have been hearing more and more about Juneteenth. And I'm also thinking that this should be a bigger holiday. I mean, African American slavery is one of the major issues in American history. They were talking about it in 1776 and, four score and seven years later, it was an issue (though not the only one) in a prticularly nasty war. The labor of numerous slaves was a major contribution to the nation's economy during those years. On a more positive note, the infusion of African culture into the dominant European-American culture helped make us Americans the people we are. So why doesn't this holiday get more press?

To celebrate the end of slavery--whether one does it as a holiday of repentance or celebration--seems only right to me. I would make it a national holiday. It makes as much sense as Labor Day or Memorial Day. It makes more sense than Presidents Day or Columbus Day. I'm not asking for another day off, (though that would be nice...) just recognition for an important part of our national history and identity.

Update: Once again I'm reminded that I fuss about nothing. I belatedly searched for a link on the history of Juneteenth and found a complete Juneteenth site. Looks like the holiday is doing just fine without government sanction or my blamming.