The Day America Became America

On this day 155 years ago, some of the last vestiges of America’s most malignant institution were stamped out. General Gordon Granger read out to Galveston, Texas, the federal orders that proclaimed freedom to the enslaved in the most remote state of the Confederacy. With this reading, the United States of America took a momentous step towards the realization of it’s promise. Despite President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation taking effect on January 1st of 1863, the treason of the Confederacy remained for another two and a half years. It took the valor and sacrifice of several thousand more Union soldiers, both Black and White, before the abolition of slavery could be fully realized.

Every single American should have something to celebrate today. The most egregious affront to the humanity of Black Americans was eradicated. The sacrifice of heroic American soldiers was vindicated. The Union established by the Constitution was restored. The liberty and justice declared in 1776 gained precious ground towards their realization for all Americans. As one uniquely eloquent Instagram post put it, Juneteenth is the day America became America.

Yet we should make no mistake. That great work of becoming is not yet complete. Our nation is grieving the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We are grappling with the reality that many of our systems from criminal justice to education continue to treat our Black neighbors with three fifths of their humanity. As we face a reckoning for our country’s history of racism, Juneteenth has taken on added significance. The work of Reconstruction was never completed. The work of the Civil Rights Movement remains unfinished. Therefore, as we celebrate the freedom proclaimed a century and a half ago, let us not forget that America is again in need of a new birth of freedom.




Georgetown Law, Class of 2023

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

OTD in History… November 3, 1948, Truman retains the presidency in an election upset against Dewey

OTD in History… May 13-June 20, 1939, the ill-fated St Louis filled with German Jewish refugees

Tonypandy Riots

Ulysses S. Grant: DevOps Pioneer

How Will You Remember?

One Man versus the Reich: The 1939 Attempt to Assassinate Adolf Hitler

Hunting a Holocaust Organizer and Nazi War Criminal

Four Score and Seven Years Ago

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jon Rodriguez

Jon Rodriguez

Georgetown Law, Class of 2023

More from Medium

A Black Woman on the U.S. Supreme Court: From Inconceivable to Reality

The American Gun Violence Menace Continues to Grow

We Are Not OK

Long-haired, darkened, solemn figure on the foreground with dissipating wings against a background of water during a peach sunset

Should people be able to own guns?