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  • Reverend James Squire

Juneteenth




Juneteenth is a federal holiday that celebrates the anniversary of when order number 3 by Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 proclaimed freedom for the enslaved people in Texas. Keep in mind that the original Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862. It took three years to reach Texas because of convoluted history during post-Civil War.


But there was a rather repulsive comment that I heard yesterday on the eve of Juneteenth regarding something that Trump said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, Tennessee. Trump let his unbridled narcissism get the best of him as he complained to the Coalition that his crowd size was larger than the crowd who was present for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. The truth of the matter is that, according to historians, 250,000 people were present for Dr. King’s address and 10,000 or less at the most were present for Trump’s address on January 6. He indicated by a statement that made no sense that hundreds of thousands were there and were pushed together, but the media wouldn’t tell the truth. The man is incapable of truth telling. But what disturbed me was not only his lies which we are used to, but the fact that this Christian evangelical group greeted his lie with a thunderous applause.


Juneteenth is fundamentally about the delay of truth getting to Texas to literally set black people free. The truth shall set you free is a fundamental ethical pillar. It is followed as well with the thought that the truth may make you challenged and sad immediately after it is told. That fact is why many ethicists feel that people are not quick to tell the truth. It may not fit into our personal goal or personal narrative. What is equally disturbing is that we became very close to losing our democracy because of lies. The measure of a Republican candidate for office is gauged not by his of her political platform but by their relationship with Trump who represents the lie.


That may not change even after the January 6 committee finishes its reporting. America may have adopted the unethical stance of the lie shall set you free. Friedrich Nietzsche in his thoughts about lying and the need for truth telling said, “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” Illusion and delusions dominate a significant part of our country as a result of partisan politics.


The African American population of Texas had to wait for three years for the truth of their freedom to reach them. They lived for three years with the lie of slavery. What do we feel on this day, Juneteenth, on being reminded of the trivializing nature of a narcissistic former president regarding crowd size over one of the great orations of a black leader? Dr. King’s address proclaimed that the truth of integration of black and white people could not wait for years to be seen the truth that will truly set us free? The sight of Christian evangelicals applauding the lie is nauseating. We may not be able to wait for three years this time to hear the importance of truth and freedom setting us all free.

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