Juneteenth will help nation repair racial ills that linger: Morgan's Corner

New Jersey Juneteenth
Saxophonist Darryl Dixon, center performs with Eddie Perales on
flute, right, and Alberto Plummer on trumpet, left, and other
members of the SGI Latin Jazz Band during the Juneteenth
celebration in East Orange.
Star-Ledger photo

The Jersey Journal

Earl Morgan
By Earl Morgan
June 20, 2011

The Rev. Donald Myers, an African-American Mississippi clergyman, is on a crusade to have June 19, widely known as Juneteenth, celebrated in all 50 states.

June 19 was the date in 1865 that Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas and declared the end of the Civil War and that the enslaved were now free. So far, 39 states, including New Jersey, have agreed to recognize Juneteenth.

Governor Christie hosted a ceremony in his Trenton offices to commemorate the event.

Even elements of the Tea Party, whose majority-white membership seems, at least to African-Americans, irrationally, unalterably opposed to everything President Barack Obama, is embracing Juneteenth.

The most salient issue for the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation that Rev. Myers chairs is the issue of reconciliation. South Africa and several other nations with a history of racial and ethnic oppression made a conscious effort through "reconciliation commissions" to confront the horrors perpetrated by both sides during those dark periods.

As a society, the United States has yet to face up to all the ramifications of what's been called that "peculiar institution."

The election of the first African-American president substantiates just how much things have changed since the passage of the civil rights acts in the mid-1960s. But there is still a ways to go to eradicate the stigma and lingering consequences of racial segregation.

The higher unemployment rates and shorter lifespans of black Americans and the thorny problems of inner city schools are evidence of how much still has to be done.

2011 NJ.com. All rights reserved.


Return to NJCLC Home Page