On June 19, 1865 (over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln), enslaved Africans in Texas finally received word that they had been emancipated. The celebration of their freedom became what is known to us today as “Juneteenth” (a mash-up of the words June and nineteenth).
Jemar Tisby says, “Freedom has always come with an asterisk in America.” These past few months and years, we have poignantly felt that asterisk. We acknowledge and grieve the paradox in today’s celebration of freedom – a freedom that has been underscored by unfulfilled promise; a freedom that has looked different for some than it has for others.
In the early days of Juneteenth celebrations, the day was spent by bringing families and communities together for a time of prayer and thanksgiving. So today, we call for a collective time of prayer for the brokenness in our nation; we call for a collective time of thanksgiving as we celebrate the freedom we have both as citizens of this nation and as citizens of heaven. We join together in singing these words of James Weldon Johnson's song "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the anthem which has become known as the African American National Anthem:
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on 'til victory is won
Until freedom looks the same for all, The Love Mercy Do Justice Team at the Evangelical Covenant Church