top of page

Minister's Corner - June 2023

Juneteenth: A basket over a candle

January 1, 1863, was the official day of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Yet, unbeknownst to me and much of the white world, in this or any time. It was two and a half years later before the start of the freedom celebration. It is somewhat a mystery as to exactly how this delay happened. What sequence of events took place to hold it off, not advertise it-not declare the Declaration? Conspiracies abound.

One story in this mythic states that the messenger of this news of liberation was murdered

on his way to Texas. Another theory of its suppression relies on reports that landowners

censored the news to maintain their labor force for as long as they could. Rumors had it that Federal Troops were part of that suppression. And it worked, for more than 2 years.

Finally, in June of 1865, Major General Gordon Granger with flag and gun in hand, stormed

the shores of Galveston, motivated to announce the freedom of those who had been

enslaved. News had spread of course. This time though, the General brought along enough

Union troops to make it stick. Rumor has it some people reacted with shock, others with

real jubilation. June 19th brought shock, praying, partying, departing, efforts to reunite with

family members, stress, and joy.

Like the day you realize the cancer is gone.

Like new love.

Like Freedom.

From that moment, the news went viral nationwide. People could not wait to leave the

plantation and start living more freely. And they started moving around, across state lines.

Let’s be clear - Juneteenth was only 158 trips around the sun from us today.

The lives of those enslaved lived lives and truly felt much closer to what one imagines it felt

like to be a Jew walking with Moses three plus thousand years ago, than most of ours here.

Now Galveston is a place of pilgrimage. I believe that forever moving forward, Juneteenth

will be in its proper place as a proud American holiday. And a reminder to all of us. When

justice is expensive and inconvenient to implement, it will mostly (and most powerfully) be

resisted in surprisingly quiet ways. Insidiously quiet ways.

“Forever and ever all Americans will this era forward celebrate Juneteenth, the freedom

holiday”! And I am proud that we will be a part of that.

adapted from a rhyming prayer by Arthur Kroll

~ Steve Wilson


bottom of page