The Juneteenth holiday is one that should be celebrated by all Americans as evidence of the great potential of our nation. It would be dishonest and historically inaccurate to turn a blind eye to our nation’s greatest sin, slavery, but in shining a light on that dark point in history, we can find the redeeming values that each of us can aspire to in order to help make our country a more perfect union.
The holiday honors General Gordon Granger riding through Texas with federal troops, reading aloud General Order #3, which included the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s famous proclamation changed the relationship between master and slave to “employer and hired labor”. The holiday is important to us as union members because it magnifies the role of labor in our nation’s history. Slavery was horrible because of the racist seeds it planted into the nascent and fertile soil of our country. Additionally, however, it was an institution of exploited labor which devalued the labor of all workers in the United States.
The opportunity to celebrate Juneteenth is an opportunity to celebrate our country resisting institutionalized labor exploitation, as well as enshrining freedom for all regardless of race. That is something every member of AFT-Maryland should take pride in celebrating, no matter our background. It is my hope that each of us enjoy the Juneteenth holiday and continue to do our part to, indeed, make our country a more perfect union.
Kenya Campbell, President