The Corrective Enlightening Power Of The Juneteenth Holiday
Republicans have become stalking horse politicians for white nationalists who want to hide racial history, white-wash racial history, and legally prohibit America’s educators, while punishing some that do, from proliferating the truthful racial history of the United States. Fortunately for American democracy, the corrective enlightening power of the Juneteenth Holiday will render Republican and white nationalist attempts to deny America’s true racial history null and void.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote a letter, signed by him and over 3 dozen other Republican Senators, to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona protesting a new rule to promote education programs throughout America that address systemic racism and the legacy of American slavery. McConnell and the Senators took particular exception in the letter with The 1619 Project saying, it “ has become infamous for putting ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy. Our nation’s youth do not need activist indoctrination that fixates solely on past flaws and splits our nation into divided camps. Taxpayer-supported programs should emphasize the shared civic virtues that bring us together, not push radical agendas that tear us apart.”
According to PEN America, in 2021 26 Republican-controlled state legislatures across the United States introduced 66 separate bills intended to restrict the teaching, training, and discussions of race and racism in American history. 12 of the 66 bills have become the law of the land. All 12 bills that became law target K-12 schools, 4 include provisions that would impact colleges and universities, and 4 include a focus on state agencies, state-funded institutions, and all places of learning.
6 of the new laws specifically ban the teaching of what is incorrectly referred to as “critical race theory,” making a total of 20 state-level bills introduced in 2021 with the same teaching prohibitions. According to Jonathan Chism, assistant professor of history at the University of Houston-Downtown and co-editor of Critical Race Studies Across Disciplines, “ Any anti-racist effort is being labeled as critical race theory, many that are condemning critical race theory haven’t read it or studied it intensely. This is largely predicated on fear: the fear of losing power and influence and privilege. The larger issue that this is all stemming from is a desire to deny the truth about America, about racism.”
And 6 of the new laws ban teaching or using curricular materials from The 1619 Project, bringing to a total of 17 state-level bills book banning The 1619 Project introduced in 2021. The state of North Dakota and college educators in North Carolina both stand out as extremists willing to hide truthful history and punish those who proliferate truthful history.
Last November North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed HB 1508 into law. HB 1508 makes it illegal for K-12 public schools to include what Gov. Burgum and the North Dakota state legislature refer to as “ critical race theory” in all school curriculums throughout the state. Based on the new law North Dakota legally defines “ critical race theory” as “ the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality “
Speaking about North Dakota’s attempt to hide America’s racial history the North Dakota ACLU said: “ It is natural that many will interpret a ban on critical race theory to mean a ban on discussing or raising issues of race in the classroom at all. How is a history teacher supposed to discuss slavery, the civil rights era, or teach high school students about the history of redlining, an explicitly systemic policy initiative that purposefully segregated housing?
In North Carolina, the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina (U.N.C.) decided to punish an educator for bringing the full truthful version of American history to light. Nikole Hannah-Jones, a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for authoring The 1619 Project, was denied a tenured position at the University of North Carolina after the university’s board of trustees abandoned the normal practice of rubber-stamping the journalism department’s recommendation to grant tenure.
The normal practice is when U.N.C.’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media appoints a person to the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, they are automatically granted tenure upon their appointment Nikole Hannah-Jones was not!!! Over 400 faculty members signed an online statement calling for the decision to be reversed, saying the failure to grant tenure to Hannah-Jones “ unfairly moves the goalposts and violates longstanding norms and established processes”.
Whether they are aware of it or not, when Senate Republicans voted unanimously and all but 14 House Republicans voted to establish the Juneteenth Holiday, made all future attempts to hide America’s racial history or punish anyone who proliferates it null and void. Making Juneteenth and the celebration of the end of slavery a national holiday made enlightenment or knowledge on the subject of slavery the law of the United States. This means the question, “ what does the Juneteenth Holiday celebrate”, will likely appear on an immigrant test for American citizenship like the question, “ who is Martin Luther King Jr”, periodically appears on the American citizenship test.
The Juneteenth Holiday makes white nationalists and Republicans who make attempts to delete history, members of the walking-dead club. Not only will the subject of the Juneteenth Holiday appear on the USA citizenship test, but it will also appear on academic tests of all kinds from the SAT down to high school or elementary classroom tests and basic entrance exams for schools. All future creditable educational curriculums must include the subject matter of a national holiday that uplifts a point of national history. And there is no way to accurately celebrate or educate about the end of slavery WITHOUT educating about its 1619 beginning or the American racism that made it possible.
All the Republican-controlled state legislatures and all the school districts across the United States that have decided to bar teaching 1619 subject matter, must prepare to reverse themselves because the Juneteenth Holiday now forces the yearly exposure of all Americans to the existence of slavery in America and the racism that created it.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “ There comes a time when silence is betrayal. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter “. The absence of American slavery’s truth is the presence of American autocratic lies that proliferate joyful, heroic, patriotic, and feel-good dishonesty that weakens and eventually kills American democracy. Thanks to the corrective enlightenment the Juneteenth Holiday will provide, American history will never again be silent about things that matter. The Juneteenth Holiday will proliferate the sometimes painful, uncomfortable, shameful, but enlightened redemptive truth that shall strengthen and fortify American democracy for present and future generations of Americans yet unborn.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at https://isaacnewtonfarris.com on June 15, 2022.