Ryan Bomberger: Juneteenth and the Freedom It Unleashed

Juneteenth. It’s a profound holiday that was known by relatively few until now. I’ve written about it for years. It has special meaning to me for several reasons. Juneteenth (a mashup of June 19th) signified the nearly three-year delayed emancipation of 250,000 slaves in Texas who hadn’t yet received the news (even a month after the end of the civil war). It exemplified the hard-fought self-sacrifice of black and white brothers and sisters working together to end the evil of chattel slavery. It’s the anniversary date of the release of my book Not Equal: Civil Rights Gone Wrong which challenges today’s civil rights movement and its failure to defend the most marginalized and most vulnerable in our society. It’s also the date that my parents, even though I was conceived in rape, saw my inherent and equal value and chose to adopt and love me as their son.

And now, bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly by both the House (415-14) and the Senate (unanimous) establishes Juneteenth National Independence Day as a federal holiday. President Biden signed it into law. He probably should’ve taken the opportunity to praise Texas for taking the lead and officially making Juneteenth a state holiday four decades ago. The bill was offered by Democrat legislator Al Edwards and signed into law by Republican governor William Perry Clements Jr. in 1980.

I only wish that the alternative names used for Juneteenth would’ve become the official name, like Juneteenth Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Freedom Day. I think those names evoke the truer essence of this historical moment. I can see how this will be exploited by those whose propensity to divide us by color, class, or any other characteristic seems to know no end. (Just watch the House’ discussion of the passage of the legislation.)

Juneteenth doesn’t belong to one group of people. It belongs to all Americans. It’s a testament to the unity of both black and white people who went to great lengths to break the chains of bondage. It can be a great reminder to the American public and the world how the Democratic Party went to war to protect the evil of slavery, but a radical Republican named Abraham Lincoln altered the trajectory of a nation. No amount of 1619 revisionism can change that. Biden even proclaimed at the bill signing: “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments, they embrace them. We come to terms with mistakes we’ve made.” He kept invoking “equity” and “racial justice” but failed to take seize the perfect moment to apologize on behalf of the Democrat Party’s pro-slavery DNA, inequalities and racial injustices. He didn’t. Instead, he nihilistically declared: “Hate only hides. It never goes away.”

I reject that. I’ve seen too many transformed people in my life to accept that hopeless lie. I believe too much in a God (notice, not a government) that truly transforms us into new creations.

Juneteenth commemorates the collective realization that our national creed, “created equal,” was becoming a (slow but assured) reality. That equality, because it’s not given to us by man or woman or governmental institution, should start at the moment we’re created—the moment of conception. Sadly, half the country doesn’t believe this today and supports another group of human beings being dehumanized and discriminated against for who they are. The unborn are violently treated like property, and just as with the institution of slavery, deemed less than human. Nothing good ever comes from denying any person’s humanity.

I don’t play semantics game. Every person is a human. Every human is a person.

Juneteenth is about the emancipation of an entire nation–of freeing those previously shackled and preventing former shacklers from treating fellow human beings like property. It’s a reminder of the biblical principle that we’re created from one blood (Acts 17:26) implemented in the natural. Yes. We’re one beautifully colorful human race.

Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union soldiers–many of whom saw so much loss and devastation in a nation at war with itself—delivered the delayed news that hundreds of thousands of slaves were no longer bound. Speaking the truth about emancipation was an extremely difficult journey for all involved in that sacred effort. There was no system of mass communication in 1865. Major General Granger traveled from place to place in Galveston, Texas in order to read General Order, No. 3 which proclaimed “all slaves are free.” He and the soldiers under his command had to bring the truth to the people. It’s tragic how many times we, as humans, remain in chains that have already been broken.

The work of spiritual and ideological emancipation today, in light of so many broken worldviews that shackle millions, is no less arduous. To the abortion abolitionists out there, keep speaking the truth and rescuing wherever you go. To the anti-trafficking abolitionists out there, keep speaking the truth and rescuing wherever you go. To the ones who defend God’s design for humanity, keep speaking the Truth and rescuing wherever you go. Love is the ultimate chain-breaker. And God is Love.

May Juneteenth remind us that Hope is never in vain—even when things seem impossible. Keep holding tenaciously to your faith. Though the reward of Hope is often delayed, truth and freedom will make their way and break through.

Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who is the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome kiddos. Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional, factivist, international public speaker and author of NOT EQUAL: CIVIL RIGHTS GONE WRONG. He loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.

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  1. its a texas holiday then. the “freedom ” that is claimed is not really there . read the 13th amendment. slavery still exists if you commit a crime .

    • Why do you strain at a gnat and swallow a camel? – Jesus of Nazareth

      The idealized version of our justice system is that it is blind, based on the rule of law and due process by which one may be lawfully deprived of his liberty. The abuse of convict labor, as was widely practiced in the Democrat Jim Crow south, is not an indictment of the 13th Amendment.

      However, in modern times, in order to make the irrational and unwarranted leap to blame the 13th Amendment for many of the problems resulting in the disproportionate levels of black incarceration one must first clear the high hurdles of, and ignore and overlook the root cause and domino effect of, the Democrat social policies that created it. Democrat social policies are directly linked to the disproportionately high levels of black government dependence which in turn led to generations of government incentivized fatherless homes, more poverty, substandard housing, crime ridden neighborhoods and food insecurity. Add to that Democrat backed abortion targeting and decimating the black population, and the total failure of Democrat run government schools to truly educate black minds by doing the bidding of the big teacher’s unions and killing school choice.

      Of the top 10,000 threats to black America the 13th Amendment doesn’t even make the list.

  2. I like this, a good explanation of the day and the time. Thank you.

  3. Lincoln had the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation ready on Sep 22, 1862 informing the Confederate States it would be effective Jan 1, 1863 in hopes that the Confederacy would surrender.
    Once the proclamation took effect in Jan 1863 it exempted the Union slave state which were Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland and they were allowed to keep their slaves. Lincoln did not want these states joining the Confederacy.
    The proclamation meant little to the Confederate States of America who had Jefferson Davis as President. As the Union forces took over parts of the south the slaves were freed.
    The Confederate States of America surrendered on Apr 9, 1865 and then the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves held in the former confederacy. It wasn’t until June 1865 that Texas, a Confederate state learned about the surrender.
    But this did not end slavery in the exempted states that supported the Union during the Civil War.
    Maryland ended slavery in 1864
    Missouri ended slavery Jan 11,1865
    Delaware ended slavery Dec 1865 as directed by the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in the United States
    Kentucky waited until the end of Dec 1865 to end slavery.
    So in fact June 19, 1865 freed slaves in Texas but did not free all people held captive in slavery throughout the United States

  4. “It’s tragic how many times we, as humans, remain in chains that have already been broken.”

    This is a profound and insightful statement. It is at the heart of so many of all of our problems, not just black people. But, given that blacks are being systematically used as pawns in a larger war by the Marxists, it is far more tragic for their community. There are just not enough people like you bringing the new that they are truly free. The Dems kept their bodies enslaved for years. Today, they are enslaving their minds and their souls. It is truly tragic.