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What is Juneteenth? Embracing America’s progress towards equality


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On Saturday, June 17, the Sylacauga community celebrated the country’s newest federal holiday with the Juneteenth Day Parade. The holiday, rooted in historical significance, serves as a reminder of a time in the United States when all people were not treated fairly and equally.

On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to deliver the long-awaited news of the Emancipation Proclamation. After more than two years since its issuance by President Abraham Lincoln, the promise of freedom for black Americans was finally realized in the westernmost Confederate state.

Although Texas has recognized Juneteenth as a holiday since 1980, it wasn’t until June of 2021 that it became a federal holiday, signed into law by current President Joe Biden. This move came amidst the growing political influence of the Black Lives Matter movement at a time of heightened racial tensions in our county. The establishment of Juneteenth as a federal holiday evoked conflicting reactions among conservatives.

Originally, fourteen House Republicans voted against the legislation while many conservatives expressed hostility towards the idea. However, from a conservative perspective, it is important to recognize the historical significance of Juneteenth as a testament to America’s progress in addressing past injustices. Our nation’s founding principles, which allowed us to overcome crimes of the past, should be preserved and celebrated.

Throughout its history, many could claim that the United States of America has fallen short of the promise that “all men are created equal” and endowed with unalienable rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Over time, our county has continued to refine its laws and traditions to better fulfill these promises, whether it be overcoming the original sin of slavery or addressing the deprivation of women’s voting rights. Juneteenth represents an important victory for America’s founding principles by showcasing the progress made on racial issues.

Embracing Juneteenth is not about rewriting history or replacing Independence Day but about acknowledging the realization of our Founding Fathers’ promises to all people. Few days better highlight this message than Juneteenth.

The holiday stands as a testament to American progress, representing one of the most important single events in our nation’s journey. It reminds us that embracing the expansion of natural rights and celebrating the realization of our founding promises for all Americans is essential to upholding our shared values of equality for all.

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