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It’s Juneteenth! For Americans, it’s a time to celebrate true liberation and freedom. For African Americans, it’s often referred to as the Black Independence Day. While America became independent on July 4th 1776, hundreds of thousands of slaves were still in bondage. It wasn’t until the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1963 did slaves legally become free. Unfortunately, as a result of the Civil War, Confederate states missed the memo. On June 19, 1965 Major General Gordon Granger made a trip to Galveston, Texas to enforce the message that slavery ended and had ended for over two years.

While slavery is not unique to America and has been practiced by numerous cultures throughout history, we should never devalue the pain and suffering of Africans brought here to rebuild the new world in which we live. America has made unbelievable strides to eradicate slavery and the effects thereof. We now have more equitable opportunities than ever imagined. The most obvious example is the election of #44, the nation’s first “Black President”. Afican Americans have contributed unprecedented advances in science, medicine, technology. Our voices are heard powerfully through politics, media, and entertainment. This would not have been nearly possible with an institution in place that limits the ability and mobility of an entire population of people.

The challenge now it’s to rise above the modern injustices that prevent further growth and development. Low income African American communities are still riddled with violence, disease, and hunger. Entertainment has become the lifeline and thus a vast majority of our children miss opportunities because they can’t see past a ball or a microphone. The beautiful piece to this complex puzzle is that we hold the keys to our liberation. There are people in positions to make change economically, socially and politically all over the nation. Just imagine if we all came together.

Photo from Indiana University

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