This is going to be one of those posts you either devour and send text messages to all your friends begging them to read it too … or, you don’t even get passed this first run-on sentence that really, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m about to dish about here, but still, it’s here all the same because my mind is literally (not figuratively) a constant run-on sentence these days. PHEW! Deep breath girl. You got this.
I admit, until recently (and by recently, I mean earlier this week) I thought Juneteenth was a day that commemorated the “end” of slavery in the U.S. but I didn’t know why. I didn’t know it was in 1865, a few months after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the confederacy at Appomattox … that it was June 19 of that year when Union Gen. Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas, to announce that all enslaved African-Americans were now free: the Civil War was over. In essence, Granger’s words made the Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863) a “real deal.” Absurd. Why? Because Lincoln had already “ended slavery.” Or so we were taught in high school in all those U.S. history classes. Or so we thought: as we were taught.
Last year I was at a small coffee bistro in the middle of the U.S.—like horse and cattle ranch, card-carrying-members of the right to bear arms, that kind of middle of the U.S. town—when I asked the gentleman behind the counter if they were open over the weekend. And he said something like … “ummm, we’re closed Sundays and Mondays and of course, tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” I asked. “It’s Saturday.”
“Yea … Juneteenth … our owners close to honor the day.”
Stumped, intrigued and admittedly a bit perplexed as to where I would get my cappuccino in the morning, I did some research. The first research I had ever done into the meaning behind the day and while I learned a lot, I also became increasingly frustrated by all the media that made it sound like the day was gaining “popularity” because of recent police brutality acts like the death of George Floyd.
And so … I learned. And both GG and I are in agreement and applaud all businesses that choose to shut their doors this day not just to honor people who suffered, but to remember. Or to research for themselves … because just honoring people isn’t enough. You need to know why. WE need to know why. Yea, you get a day off work now … awesome, enjoy it. But take a few minutes and do some research and understand how lucky you are to be getting this day off to recognize the plights of others. AND … major shout out to all the small towns in the middle of the U.S. doing their part to bring Juneteenth the recognition it deserves—lit’s not just the big cities where diversity and awareness exist. It’s everywhere. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder, but it’s there.