Juneteenth celebrates, most fundamentally, the emancipation of an entire race from approximately 250 years of chattel slavery on the North American continent. The most proximate cause for this was our country’s victory in war over a treasonous secession instigated by those more committed to a morally abhorrent and historically doomed “economic system” than their own nation.
Our nation’s victory was purchased at a horrible price. Most obviously, this victory was won by millions of American men who fought in a truly gruesome total war against their own countrymen. More subtly, it was also won by generations of black Americans who fought to survive in a world built and operated to brutalize and subjugate them.
I do not understand how any American could view celebrating literal human liberation and the triumph of their own nation in war as “divisive.” Nothing is more “divisive” to our common humanity than bondage and nothing is more “divisive” to our common nation than treason. It took enormous sacrifice from our forebears — black, white, enslaved, and free — to break the contemptible shackles of slavery and preserve the Union from those who would have, quite literally, divided it. On Juneteenth, I proudly celebrate the liberty, unity, and joy secured by their sacrifice.