Benz Marshall Pierre | Contributing Writer
Juneteenth, a day all slaves finally dared to dream of freedom to come, bears great significance to the overall experience of African-Americans in the United States.
Similar to the era-defining struggles our history books tell us, freedom was seriously delayed. From failure to fully and quickly integrate freed slaves into citizenship to the ongoing incapacity to tackle the most stubborn issues ailing the Black community, the history of African-Americans in the United States was haunted by too many instances of half-hearted change.
The imprints of the unforgiving past still follow us 158 years later. African-Americans’ contribution, whether economic or cultural, is unquestionable, yet they enjoy a pitiful slice of the American dream.
The past plays a significant role in defining the present. But the present, although drastically improved, has its challenges.
In 2023, the judicial system has done its part in supplying many African-Americans to U.S. prisons. They make up 38% of the prison population while only making up 13% of the general population. The decrepitude of many Black schools is also a sad reminder of the inequalities Black students suffer.
Modern Black poverty also originates from the infernal days of slavery. The U.S. economic juggernaut, the widely praised capitalist system and the freedom it offers have yet to aid African-Americans. The market still struggles to provide an excellent way to help create substantial wealth that could allegedly better the lives of many African-Americans.
Unfortunately, there still is no sign of a sincere conversation that concerns how to make amends for the past and prepare for the future.
And, to add insult to injury, history has also suffered a major blow.
In Florida, it’s worthy to note the successful effort of Gov. Ron DeSantis in demanding that new changes be added to the controversial AP African-American history. These changes, however, are merely an attempt to accommodate the sensibilities of those reluctant to face the obvious historical facts of an imperfect United States.
How must past historical wrongs be rectified if history isn’t taught in all its integrality? How can this new generation be armed with new ideas if the past from which it will draw its inspiration is distorted?
It’s irresponsible that those representing us further the campaign that erases the crucial episodes of African-American struggles.
As we celebrate Juneteenth, let us discard the empty rhetoric. Let’s embrace the causes that led to the Civil Rights movement. This day must be a time for profound questioning, a time to ponder on the progress made and the issues that have yet to be adequately addressed.
As we party in commemoration of this day, let Juneteenth be the day when the followers of social justice gather in the spirit of brotherhood and harmony. Let Juneteenth also be a time spent not dwelling on the dark episodes of African-American history only, but also a moment spent professing our love for the nation.
The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.