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Dr. Alveda King: Why Juneteenth is an Occasion to Invite Ethnic Harmony

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Allison Schuster


"When peripherals collide convergence is imminent. We are not colorblind. We see and celebrate ethnicity."

~ Dr. Alveda King

Today is Juneteenth in America. Father's Day is just behind us. I take pause to remember three "ballot initiatives" as I connect these "dots." Racism, human dignity from the womb to the tomb and beyond, and the "fatherhood crisis." Please pause today and pray for America.

As Black Americans, and indeed all people of goodwill across the country celebrate Juneteenth with friends, family, and loved ones, we celebrate the magnificent achievement that could only be possible in our beloved homeland. As many of you may know, Juneteenth—sometimes called "America's second Independence Day"—marks the moment when Union troops reached Galveston, Texas, and finally liberated the last remaining enslaved Black Americans from their chains of slavery.

Every leap toward freedom should be celebrated in every generation, decade, and era. Some people ask why Juneteenth is necessary and suggest that it stirs up old wounds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remembering our history is necessary. When we don't remember our history, we run the risk of repeating mistakes. Without our history, we might forget to celebrate our resilience and our blessings.

The occasion celebrates the victory of emancipation in the United States of America. In many ways, our development of ethnic harmony reminds me of the Book of Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The Bible teaches us that by God's grace, we are all one human race; one blood—and I think that America's founding principles of liberty and equality offer that same message, too.

As our Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..."

My uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr., knew how significant this proclamation was; in his famed "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he said that when the "architects of our republic" wrote the "magnificent words" of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were "signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir."

Uncle ML went on to say that this note was "a promise that all [people] men—yes, Black [people] men as well as white [people] men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights" that are enshrined in our founding documents. So, compare these messages to the many voices of division we hear in popular culture today.

From the media and entertainment to politics and education, we are constantly reminded of our differences. We are divided along the lines of race [a socially invented concept], class, sex, faith, and even political persuasion. Remember, there are no separate races; only one blood/one human race. God intentionally created ethnicities; not separate races.

It hasn't always been easy, but through the sacrifice of Civil Rights heroes like my uncle, my mom and dad and grandparents, equality under the law is achieved in every generation, decade, and on every platform. As evidence, Juneteenth is a historically significant day because again, I believe in the old adage: if you don't learn your history, you will be doomed to repeat it.

So let's use this Juneteenth as an opportunity to work together to hold onto the good and correct the bad. The goal for humanity should be to learn to live together as brothers and sisters in Christ—because if we cannot learn to do so, as the Bible teaches, we will indeed perish as fools.

Juneteenth provides us with the perfect opportunity to reflect on this Christian principle of ethnic harmony. I'm often reminded, especially during this season, that as a Christian Evangelist, how important it is to deliver the good news in every generation, and decade, on every platform.

Think about it. The slaves in 1864 Texas were "free" eighteen months before they heard the good news. How many souls today need the "Good News; the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" He who has God's Son Jesus Christ is "free indeed!"

While we certainly have more work to do in our everyday lives, we should also use this day to look back on the progress that we have made and celebrate with joy the blessings that America has brought to all of God's children. We are the one-blood human race, united as children of our shared Creator.  Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to Alveda King Ministries.

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