This past weekend our country observed Juneteenth, a day of remembrance, reflection, and reconciliation for the millions of Americans whose ancestors found themselves here involuntarily; separated from their communities, families, and basic freedoms. While it might be hard to accept that the backbone of our early economy was constructed with the blood and sweat of slaves, it’s important for all Americans to understand the significance and ongoing impact of this essential truth.
I’m not in a classroom today like I am most Mondays due to the federal holiday, but it’s still a day of education and learning, not barbeques and beer. As such, I wanted to share a portion of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered over 150 years ago on March 4, 1865. While we’ve come a long way as a nation to foster equality for all its citizens, the echo of the past still rings too loud for us to be wishing each other a “Happy” Juneteenth.
Instead, I hope we can all find time to sit with the uncomfortable truths of our complicated history, wish for a future of unity and justice, and perhaps consider what you can do in your own life to create a more equitable country for the millions of black Americans who still feel the sting of our past in their daily existence.
“With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Candidate for New York State Assembly 102