Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse voiced his perspective on Juneteenth, encouraging people to go beyond acknowledging the holiday. Juneteenth, which occurs each June 19, commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.
Ebobisse, now in his fourth MLS season, has remained vocal on issues of equality and the Black experience in America. He’s previously penned a personal essay and went on BSI: The Podcast for an in-depth conversation.
Here’s the full rundown of Ebobisse’s thread, which was published Friday on Twitter.
It is imperative that we speak candidly about the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth as many continue to relearn our history. While Lincoln ultimately made strides in the advancement of Blacks, his internal discord on whether to free Blacks or not was evident.
Slavery was still practiced in US after Juneteenth, especially until passage of 13th Amendment, which if you’ve watched “13th” by now you’ll remember that it still isn’t fully abolished. Lincoln’s central question was always how to preserve the Union, not how to free Blacks.
The strength of the abolitionists’ resolve pushed this country closer to the ideal that we are all entitled to human rights. While more and more people came around on abolition, that sentiment did not translate to wanting Blacks to have an equitable stake in society.
The relative apathy towards Black political and economic advancement, Radical Reconstruction aside, paved the way for structural mechanisms to immediately recreate bondage. This eventually led to an era of heightened racial terrorism and state sanctioned discrimination (Jim Crow).
The anger towards Blacks refusing to pick cotton and enter into contracts with their former masters symbolized just how disconnected people were with the pain & anger of newly freed Blacks. They naively expected Blacks to walk back onto the plantation and live happily ever after.
The point is that while today is a celebration, it is also a reminder that progress is often misunderstood. We, understandably and deservedly, acknowledge the step forward, however we forget to pay equal attention to the multiple steps backward. Commit to learning your history.
To those observing Juneteenth for the first time: paying homage to this important day is a good start, however I ask that you refrain from symbolically acknowledging Juneteenth without making concerted efforts to lead a life supportive of black folk and business.