Juneteenth (June 19th) is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of American slavery dating back to 1865. However, though the Emancipation Proclamation may have been the law of the land when signed, it took two years for news to reach the entire country. This is just one example of public policy or government apologies failing to be fulfilled by the state. As we unpack Juneteenth and its importance in recognizing the trials and tribulations of African ancestors and elders we celebrate (even noting the TV show Atlanta's Juneteenth episode), we cannot ignore the generations after slavery that sustained new ways of systematically and institutionally oppressing Black people—sharecropping, black codes, Red Summer, Jim Crow, mass racialized incarceration, police violence, etc.
With this paradox in mind, BrownTown examines other examples of the United States government formally apologizing or granting reparations to other wronged marginalized groups. What happened to Black folks’ 40 acres and a mule? How was 2008’s House Resolution 194 that apologized for slavery not public knowledge complete with reparations and a sincere conversation confronting America’s past? How does one recognize and commemorate Juneteenth, yet hold our institutions accountable for a job not done? Here’s BrownTown's take.
Mentioned in the episode: Trap House - Chicago uses streetwear, art, and radical restorative justice to transform individuals, communities, and society. T.R.A.P. = Truth Reaching All People.
EPISODE CORRECTION: HR194 was technically passed under President Bush in July 2008, not Obama who took office the following January 2009.