A Reflection on Juneteenth

June 20, 2022
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Change doesn’t always come right away. Even when it should.

Juneteenth is evidence of that on many levels.

It has been treasured as a holiday by Black Americans for years and celebrated in some states despite not being declared a federal holiday until last year. Wall Street had not closed in remembrance until today.

Admittedly, I had not heard of it until recent years.

Though the first day of 1863 affected the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln stating “all persons held as slaves…shall be then, and thenceforward, and forever free”1 in the Confederacy, it did not liberate slavery in the entirety of the United States or even in Confederate states like Texas.

It wasn’t until a few years later that federal troops came to Galveston, Texas and “U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: ‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.’”2  June Nineteenth was the day in 1865 that marked the enslaved as free in Texas and began to be celebrated among Black Americans primarily in their churches. It was in the winter of that year that the 13th Amendment finally abolished slavery in the US.

Now a holiday—those pivotal proclamations, days, and amendments—do not remove the presence of racism. Marked days can memorialize and laws can restrain evil, but it can’t change a person’s heart. While we set apart Memorial Day a few weeks ago to grieve and honor the lives given in sacrifice for the freedom of our nation, we remember Juneteenth to lament the horror of racism in our country’s history. This awful history continued long after slavery was abolished. Additionally, we commemorate this day to celebrate the liberating enactment of the self-evident truth the 1776 Declaration of Independence claimed that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”.3

We at Johnson Wealth Management want you to live and leave a legacy, which means you should use days like this to reflect on the kind of legacy—apart from monetary value—that you will leave to the ones you love. Legacy is measured primarily by the life you lived not the value the investments you pass on.

Our country can’t change its past, and you can’t change yours, but you can impact the future by how you act today.

So today trading pauses.

We should too and ponder the meaning of this day.

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Sources:

1. https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured-documents/emancipation-proclamation/transcript.html

2. https://www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth

3. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript