Day 1247, Juneteenth
June 19, 1865, black slaves learned they were free.
(Emancipation was proclaimed in 1863.) (1)
Confederates did not comply until they lost the war.
600,000 soldiers died and blacks were slaves no more.
And then came Reconstruction and, with that, the Ku Klux Klan,
White Christians burning crosses, terrorizing the Black Man.
No integration, right to vote, but lynching of the blacks,
Not one white man convicted for such murderous attacks.
Then statues of Confederates and Jim Crow codified
The racist virus and white privilege, standing side by side.
A hundred fifty years, our bigotry has stayed alive.
Then civil rights and voting rights by 1965.
But schools stayed segregated; voting rights were choked again.
We did it in both South and North to people with dark skin.
Things got a little better, mostly on athletic teams
But blacks who could not “dunk” were mostly still denied their dreams.
So racism persisted, as did white knees on black necks.
Is this a human property, a natural reflex?
We’re all one human family; that’s what our genomes say.
(That’s also in the Bible Donald waved the other day.)
But cops keep killing black men and once more we demonstrate.
Will there be progress this time, something we can celebrate?
“Juneteenth” meant no more slavery, but not opportunity.
We have a long, long way to go, before equality.
Should Juneteenth be a holiday? Would that do any good?
If that leads to equality, then, by all means, it should.
Is racism genetic in the human recipe?
If this evil is within us, we need chemotherapy.
(1) June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, a Union general, Gordon Granger, read a proclamation that all slaves were free. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Slavery was abolished by the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865.