By Rosetta Miller Perry
Many Black communities across this nation celebrated Juneteenth this past weekend, recognizing the significance of the end of slavery in America, and what was supposed to be the start of a new day. Despite the fact that only 18 states to date are officially on board declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday, African Americans paid homage to our ancestors, and celebrated the sense of unity and freedom that the day symbolizes.
But now African Americans must rekindle that holiday’s spirit and again strive for the unity of purpose that Juneteenth epitomizes. A sad reality is the brutality and injustices of the Jim Crow era forced a togetherness and community awareness that too often seems to be lacking in today’s supposedly integrated society. There are currently too many Blacks in Tennessee and elsewhere who seem oblivious to the need for us to support each other in business, to be informed and participate in civic affairs, and to respect ourselves and our families.
Certainly, there remain many committed and hard working African Americans who are continuing the tradition of the struggle and advocacy that characterized the Civil Rights Movement, and have propelled whatever progress and positive social change has occurred in America. But sadly, there is a backlash that culminated in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and which continues to keep him in a position of power and influence that he has neither earned or deserved.
There are too many in the Black community who don’t seem to understand that our struggle is not over, that full equality and economic opportunity has not yet arrived, and that we still have work to do in our communities. Even sadder is the fact there are often among us Blacks we cannot trust, Blacks who say one thing to our face, but do another thing behind our backs. Some of these Blacks are folks who’ve been entrusted with authority or power, while others are just folks we consider friends or neighbors who instead turned out to be thieves and liars.
If Juneteenth, as well as Black Music and Black History Month are going to be more than empty celebrations, we have to truly understand their significance and act accordingly the entire year. We need to be honest with each other, admit that none of us can make it by ourselves, and strive to work together for the benefit of everyone. It’s not enough that a few Black people in Tennessee can do well while the majority are suffering. We can do far more together than apart, and we can accomplish much more as a unified force than as a bunch of individuals seeking nothing beyond personal financial gratification and satisfaction.
No one is arguing that any one person has all the answers. Nor are we foolish enough to think everyone will always agree on every thing, or that a consensus will somehow emerge among Blacks. But we do think what can and should happen more often is a realization that we’re all in this together as Black people, that we face common problems and that all of us, regardless of our economic status or where we live, must deal with systemic racism, economic, social and judicial inequity.
The Tennessee Tribune is proud and happy to have seen so many people celebrate and honor Juneteenth. But let’s continue to honor it the rest of the year through our actions, and seek to create more trust and unity within our communities in order to move forward rather than spiral backwards in discord and individualism.