Some say that the United States is the greatest country in the world. Every year, more than one million immigrants arrive in the United States seeking a better life for their families, more opportunities, and more freedoms, unlike any other country. Despite this, the U.S. has also had a sordid history of enslavement, racism, and discrimination.
It is debated exactly when the first Africans were brought to the US as captives but 1619 is typically the year used. On January 1, 1863, all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 when the Confederate army surrendered and a Union General went to Galveston, TX to take control of the state and announce that all African Americans were free. 250,000 blacks in Texas alone, were going to have their freedom. This put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln had issued 2 ½ years earlier.
I am no better and neither are you. We are the same, whatever we do.
On June 16, 2021, the House passed legislation for President Joe Biden to sign into law, Juneteenth (June 19) is now recognized as a Federal Holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture.
It is imperative to never forget this and to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisolm, Alvin Ailey, and Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler to name a few. But why is an Italian American woman volunteering to write an article about this historic event? I, for one, will not forget our history. Furthermore, I cannot accept the most recent racist mass murders that have taken place in this country. I will celebrate my brothers and sisters and their ancestors that gave their lives for all to be free, not because it’s a thing. But because we as Americans should never forget this. But I do ask myself, is it really a time for celebration? Let us work towards a day when we no longer have to hear about the hate-driven killings of African Americans. As Sly Stone once said, “I am no better and neither are you. We are the same, whatever we do.”
Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES | PCMA Capital Chapter | DEI Committee Member