The Importance of Juneteenth as a National Holiday

Photo by the New Yorker of writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, author the 1619 Project.

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Recently, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. While this should be a celebratory moment in history, some Black people are erroneously degrading this bill as useless. They contend it will change nothing. These naysayers view the law as an empty gesture to quiet the rumblings in Black America that can become a revolution. Contrary to what these naysayers believe, Juneteenth as a national holiday has the potential to change everything. The implications are endless. In order to understand this, one must understand Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Scholars are pushing for the 1619 Project and CRT to be taught in schools.

To continue, Critical Race Theory was initially a practice to examine law and how it is integrally constructed to disadvantage Black people. This theory has expanded as a tool used to examine race on every level, personal and systemic.

Moreover, the 1619 Project draws from elements of the Critical Race Theory to examine Black American history on a more intimate level. Scholars are pushing for the 1619 Project and elements of CRT to be taught in schools. As one would imagine, there has been major pushback on this idea from conservatives.

some conservative states have moved to bar the teaching of CRT or the 1619 Project.

On a level ripe with demagogue, conservatives are arguing CRT and the 1619 Project teach hate against white people. They further argue that those ideologies are revisionist history that train white people to be ashamed of their white identity. Because of this, some conservative states have moved to bar the teaching of CRT or the 1619 Project in schools. But what does any of this have to with Juneteenth?

With Juneteenth being so interrelated with the concepts of CRT and the 1619 Project, this national holiday can be used to inform the country about what those ideas really are. This holiday can be used to teach those who are hesitant about what CRT can do to eradicate racism. Once this happens, it will be easy to make the 1619 Project and CRT a part of school curriculum.

With that noted, CRT and the 1619 Project force students to evaluate not just others but themselves. It gives them insight as to how racism has worked and how to dismantle it. It gives real versions of events in American history that have never been told or have been told incorrectly. These ideas make it possible for genuine Black stories to be told from Black perspectives.

this self-evaluation will heal … Black Americans the most.

In closing, Juneteenth as a national holiday isn’t going to change the world overnight. Yet that is not the purpose. The goal is to sit a mirror in front of America and have it examine its deep, race-related festering wounds. In the process, this self-evaluation will heal all Americans but Black Americans the most. This national holiday is the loudspeaker for Black American woes and solutions. It may be hard to see, but progress is being made, and Juneteenth as a national holiday is vital. Sure, there is work to do in the realm of more actionable policy for Black Americans, but Juneteenth is part of a starting point.

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Published by Professor J

Professor J is an author, poet and screenwriter.

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