Growing up in Texas, Juneteenth has been a holiday for me all my life. A time to BBQ, a time to pray, and a time to celebrate freedom. A time to reflect on June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to take command of the more than 2,000 federal troops. This was two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had become law on January 1, 1863.
Imagine Major General Granger walking through the streets of Galveston reading General Order No. 3 out loud in front of homes, courthouses, businesses, and churches; Freeing the last group of slaves in America, many who likely believed this day would never come.
Today, when I hear some conservatives speak out against Juneteenth, it reminds me that we have a long way to go.
The hypocrisy of many who claim to be patriots and defenders of liberty and freedom is undeniable on this issue. Even those I respect, like Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk, are taking a stand against Juneteenth in the name of "American Patriotism."
Ironically, Juneteenth is a celebration grounded in the Republican ideals of equality and freedom.
In fact, the Republican Party was founded upon the back of the abolitionist movement in the United States. Historic figures such as President Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman were all members of the anti-slavery Republican Party. Their respective legacies and pioneering achievements continue to inform the Republican Party of today.
Just a year ago, I was working with several black conservatives to design the Platinum Plan with the Trump Administration that would bring over $500 billion into the black communities, further criminal justice reform, enhance Opportunity Zone funding, small business funding and yes, declaring Juneteenth a National Holiday.
President Trump understood the importance of Juneteenth and he grasped the importance of helping to bring freedom to so many who have received excessive incarceration.
I did not hear a single conservative speak out against Juneteenth when it was announced in President Trump’s Platinum Plan.
Now that it has been passed by Democrats, some conservatives have changed their minds and their rhetoric. This hypocrisy is at the core of the spirit division in our nation. We cannot define our truth based on political parties or man-made ideals. That is not patriotism.
Yes, we can celebrate the abolition of slavery in America and still celebrate our nation’s independence, they are not mutually exclusive. Patriotism is celebrating our country’s freedom from the tyranny of Great Britain. Patriotism is celebrating that America was one of the first major world powers to abolish both slavery and colonization. Patriotism is embracing the celebration of freedom based on righteousness, not ideals.
The 4th of July is the promise of monumental events in American history, like Juneteenth. Juneteenth is an example of the fulfillment and affirmation of our nation’s ideals promised by the Constitution and celebrated on the 4th of July.
They complement each other and illustrate not only a commitment to equality, but America’s progress in pursuit of a more perfect union.
This Juneteenth, I BBQ’ed with friends and said prayers for our Nation to continue to be the examples of freedom for the world.
Jack Brewer, former NFL, America First Policy Institute’s Chairman of the Center for Opportunity Now, and former White House appointee on the Congressional Commission for the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
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