Dr. Lucas Morel on the Meaning of Juneteenth

The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal posted an interview with Dr. Lucas Morel on why Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday.

Dr. Morel, the head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University, said Juneteenth is a “commemoration of emancipation but it’s a peculiar one…” Emancipated slaves in Texas didn’t hear about the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but on June 19, 1865, when commanding general of the Texas District Gordon Granger announced the news from his headquarters, in black churches, and other locations.

“So better late than never, that’s for sure,” Dr. Morel said. “And the lateness I should hasten to add was because there weren’t many Union soldiers, there weren’t many Union troops in the latter part of the war in Texas. That was the furthest, maybe not the furthest, but one of the furthest reaches for the war effort and so word just simply didn’t get to them.”

Dr. Morel said he doesn’t want Juneteenth to be equated with the Fourth of July or viewed as a day for only black Americans.

The last thing we need right now in this country in 2020 for crying out loud is more occasions for division, separation, distinctions of some groups of citizens over and against others. That’s a fundamental contradiction to the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.

We need to do more to emphasize what we have in common, not these superficial things that we have that are different. …

I guess I would say, in short, unless we understand Juneteenth as directly connected to July Fourth, understood within the context and background of making the promise of July Fourth a reality for all Americans, I don’t think it would be especially productive. That’s my take on it.

Listen to the full interview here.

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  1. Texas was not part of the United States of America when Lincoln issued the proclamation in January 1863 but a member of the Confederate States of America – the Civil War ended in April 1865 and Texas was informed of the surrender in June 1865. The proclamation meant nothing to the Confederate States because they were not part of the United States of America and Lincoln was not their President.

  2. On my vest is the Regimental crest of the Fifth United States Cavalry Regiment which I served with in Vietnam at the Battle of Gettysburg the Regiment was the hardcore of Brigadier General John Bufford’s Cavalry Brigade fought a delaying action which bought enough time for the whole Army of the Potomac to show up and stop the Army of Northern Virginia dead in their tracks. Then the Regiment harassed the Army of Northern Virginia until they were they were trapped by the Army of the Potomac and forced to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse where the Regiment served as the guard of honor for the Union Army. Whilst everyone knows about the First Cavalry Division very few people know the Second Cavalry Division in those day made up of the ELITE black Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army the dirty little secret was that their white officers were UTTERLY spoiled by their black enlisted men and would refuse to leave them. When Teddy Roosevelt went up Kettle Hill they were supported very ably supported by a troop from the Tenth United States Cavalry led by an obscure Cavalry Captain named John Joseph Pershing who went on to bigger and better things. The first thing I was taught in the Army was that the most dangerous thing on a battlefield was a second lieutenant with a map and a compos just saying but it was the wrong hill. In 1914 the United States elected Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey president. That was a damned lie his real name was Thomas Woodrow Wilson and he was from Virginia and he was a damned Klansman!!