I know that an annual “Faith and Freedom Coalition” conference, a national holiday, and Fathers’ Day will not always line up on the same week. Yet, no one should lose the irony of the first-ever federal Juneteenth holiday, a conference that promotes the value of the nuclear family, and our traditional celebration of the gift of fatherhood all falling on the same weekend during these turbulent times.
It’s more than just a coincidence; it’s a recipe for success for many of the most underserved, overlooked, and – yes, even the most discriminated – Americans to utilize, especially if we are to heal, uplift, and lead more Americans into the fold of the American Dream moving forward.
The capping of the first federal Juneteenth Weekend with a subtle reminder is important, even if it is easy to overlook. With the jubilee that immediately followed the 1865 announcement of the end of slavery came the ability for Black families (note, these were not African-Americans, as they had no rights at this point) to finally stick together and stay together. Juneteenth’s glory is also a stabbing of a scar, a feast that gently touches upon the failure of America to be honorable and just to Black men over the course of our history – and how that indescribable wrong had a chance to be corrected after 1865.
Sadly, even after 1865, Black fatherhood remained an aspiration, not a fixture within the fabric of our nation. During slavery, Black men were subjected to roles that did not exceed much more than breeding bucks, beasts of burden in the fields, or docile servants. For every Nat Turner or Frederick Douglass in the annals of our history, there are millions that were beaten, maimed, and killed over the 300+ year history of chattel slavery on this continent. Immediately after slavery, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the initiation of Jim Crow laws – ridden on the back of the “Compromise of 1877” — created environments where Black men were systemically persecuted through the economic, election system, and social mores of the day, complete with
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