Celebrating Juneteenth and Ignoring the New Slavery


Dr. John E. Warren

By now most of America’s African American and non-African American communities have heard of Juneteenth and the significance of the late notice of the freeing of the slaves that reached Galveston, Texas two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. While we celebrate that notice in spite of its lateness, we do too little today to deal with the ongoing slavery of mind, body and spirit that too many African Americans still suffer today. The only tragedy greater than the slavery of apathy, indifference, selfishness and petty materialism that keeps them competing for the poorest among the poor, is the fact that they don’t seem to know that they are still enslaved with a value system created for them to further diminish them while others move ahead.

For too many of us Juneteenth is a time to party. We are very fortunate that here in San Diego we have people like the Cooper Family who have not only kept Juneteenth alive in terms of its meaning for community, but have also set an example of a family looking beyond themselves in the true tradition of their parents’ legacy.

Perhaps if some of our young men busy killing themselves with bullets, drugs and disrespect for self and community, could stop and realize the roles that the real people of Juneteenth played in making their freedoms available today, there would be less self hatred. Wouldn’t it be nice if the next step after this celebration would be the joining of Black Men United and the community in a discussion of how all that energy used for violence might be challenged toward business and self help. Let’s enjoy Juneteenth, but lets not forget that today in this age of instant and mass communication along with social networking that we can’t afford to be late again in knowing what being done for, about and to us as the original recipients were with the first Juneteenth.