SUMMARY: U.S. history professor at Bethel University John H. Haas suggests that Juneteenth is a time for Americans to reflect on how “how hard America has found it to live up to its own ideals” while pondering why America is the only nation that required a war, the bloodiest war in its history, to repeal slavery.
KEY QUOTE: “Juneteenth could be an occasion for reflecting upon questions such as these. And more: What was it about America that made it cling to slavery with such bloody tenacity, even at the risk of alienating the opinions of mankind? How was it that so many Americans would choose to sever their ties with the republic—and their brothers and sisters—over seeing slavery infringed upon? How is it that a people could wage war with itself to such astonishing, murderous, effect? And in what context should we place that conflict? Is it an anomaly? Or should we see the violence of the Civil War as part of a larger pattern, intertwined with the rebellion that birthed the nation nearly a century earlier, the racial violence of lynchings and massacres like that of Tulsa, and the violent protests that have rocked the nation from Kent State to January 6th? And if so, what shapes that pattern?”
More curated resources on Juneteenth:
What is Juneteenth? Why do we celebrate it? How should we celebrate it? After reading the following articles, listening to the podcast, and watching the show you should have a decent understanding of what the holiday is and why we celebrate it.
In a previously curated article Jemar Tisby aptly recommends that white and Black Americans should commemorate Juneteenth differently. One of the ways non-Black Americans can commemorate the holiday is to learn about the history of Black people in America. On Juneteenth consists of a collection of six engrossing essays interlacing author Annette Gordon-Reed’s memories from growing up in Jim Crow Conroe, TX as the first Black student in her elementary school with the complexities of American history, specifically Texan history, replete with its myths, legends, and truths.
In an informative and practical 40-minutes Jemar Tisby touches on three reasons why he advocated for Juneteenth to be a national holiday, discusses the historical origins and context of the holiday, lists some unintended consequences of making Juneteenth a federal holiday, and humbly suggests that Black and white people should celebrate the holiday differently.