Friday, June 19, 2020

Happy Emancipation Day

If my math is correct, today marks 155 years since the formal liberation of all who had been held as slaves in the Unites States of America. Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on this day in 1865, proclaiming that all people held as slaves in Texas (and more broadly in the Confederate South) were free. Earlier, in September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had declared that “on the first day of January … all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State . . . shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” I guess without social media, it took 2.5 years for this edict to reach some parts of the country . . .  Did it take too long to come? Definitely. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

I understand anger. It is the emotion that surfaces when boundaries have been invaded or crossed. As Aristotle put it: Anybody can become angry—that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” I choose to have it within my power to manage mine. 

Has this melting-pot nation “arrived at equality?” Not hardly. However, in the last few weeks I have become more hopeful that a nation that practiced “systemic racism” —the love of money is the root of all evil—is turning a corner. There are many more inequalities than racism. Nevertheless, this is a start. When my little French grandmother, whom I adored, moved to the USA, she voted in every election until the day she died. She often said, “Elected representatives make laws and run this country. If you want real and lasting change, vote for those who have a goal—and a record—of promoting equality. If you do not vote, you have voted for the status quo.” Happy Emancipation Day!

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