Juneteenth commemorates the dates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the Confederate state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the words June and teenth like nineteenth and other numbers ending with –teenth. The North’s victory brought an end to both the Civil war and the scourge of slavery. This national conflict resulted in three addendums to the Freedom document, the Bill of Rights. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th amendment gave equal citizenship to every human being born in this country regardless of race, granting the full rights and protection of the U.S. Constitution, and the 15th amendment guaranteed the right to vote for all citizens regardless of race or previous condition of servitude. Unfortunately, these amendments weren’t kept or honored for over 100 years causing great oppression, pain, and suffering! The word shares that we are to be concerned about the welfare of all our brothers and sisters:
I Corinthians 12:25–26. So that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others. 26 Thus if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness.
This is why the issue of Racism, or any prejudice is so critical-if one of us is suffering, we all suffer! It inhibits the release of the One New Man! Legalized slavery stopped in 1865 with the defeat to the Confederacy, but the end of slavery still hasn’t effectively come to pass even though the civil rights act of 1964 was passed, 99 years later. At the end of the Civil War there was no closure, the enemy wasn’t defeated, the threat of a return to slavery was real and existed. President Lincoln, a man of God, had a plan to give 40 acres of land and a mule to every former slave family, but he was assassinated before this could come to pass!
Instead, Jim Crow laws were instituted in the 1880’s as the reconstruction period ended in 1879. In 1890 Separate but Equal legislation was passed by all southern state legislatures. In the 1870’s the former slave owners gradually regained power in the Southern legislatures, having used insurgent paramilitary groups, such as the KKK, the White League and Red Shirts, to disrupt black political organizing, run officeholders out of town, and intimidate blacks to suppress their voting.
Extensive voter fraud was also used. Gubernatorial elections were close and had been disputed in Louisiana for years, with increasing violence against blacks during campaigns from 1868 onward. Before I go on, I’m making a disclaimer: I’m not endorsing any political party, I’m sharing U.S. history as it happened. In 1877, a national Democratic Party compromise to gain Southern support in the presidential election resulted in the U.S. government’s withdrawing the last of the federal troops from the South. White Democrats regained political power in every Southern state and restored white supremacy. These Southern, white, governments legislated Jim Crow laws, officially segregating black people from the white population.
Blacks were still elected to local offices through the early 1880s, but the establishment were passing laws to make voter registration and electoral rules severely restrictive, with the result that political participation by most blacks and many poor whites began to decrease. Between 1890 and 1910, ten of the eleven former Confederate states, starting with Mississippi, passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively removed the vote from most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements. Grandfather clauses temporarily permitted some illiterate whites to vote, but gave no relief to most blacks.
Those who could not vote were not eligible to serve on juries and could not run for local offices. Blacks disappeared from political life, as they could not influence the state legislatures, and their interests were overlooked. While public schools had been established by Reconstruction legislatures for the first time in most Southern states; those for black children were consistently underfunded compared to schools for white children, even when considered within the strained finances of the postwar South where the decreasing price of cotton kept the agricultural economy at a low.
In just 20 years after the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, all blacks were effectively returned to slavery. It had different names: “Share Croppers” “Segregation” “Separate but equal” “Jim Crow” but the effects were identical. Slavery in America has yet to have a closure, a transition or transformation into freedom and liberty. It’s the “Pink Elephant” sitting in the middle of our Republic that no one desires to discuss or talk about! The modern welfare institution is still a form of slavery and suppression as is the Bureau of Indians Affairs and the reservation system for our Native, Indigenous brothers and sisters! As Messianic Jews we must not only be involved, we must lead! The Messianic Movement must lead, and the Church must break its silence on this! We are commanded to be a voice for the voiceless. We are surrounded by the oppressed, the persecuted, and voiceless. We are commanded to be an advocate; The greater body of Messiah’s silence on this is deafening, Silence is a sin!
Proverbs 31:8. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, for the rights of all who need an advocate.
Slave hood isn’t relegated to human servitude alone. Slavery manifests physically, spiritually, and financially. God decreed that He would send His servant who would bring freedom to the captives physically, spiritually, and financially!
Isaiah 61:1. The Spirit of Adonai ELOHIM is upon me, because ADONAI has anointed me to announce good news to the poor (Ana’yim: poor, humble, afflicted, meek, needy). He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted (L’nish bry; Brokenhearted, crushed, broken, fractured hurt, injured) to proclaim freedom to the captives (Lish’vu’yim: captive, taken captive, prisoner, enslaved), to let out into light those bound in the dark (pek-akh-ko’-akh: opening of the eyes, opening of a dungeon or prison, salvation from sin).
Yeshua alone is the source of our freedom from every and all types of enslavement. He alone is our source of restoration, redemption, and freedom. Our kinsman redeemer who will restore both all rights and free us from captivity to whatever enslaves us. Like the African American slaves prior to 1865, Spiritually, every individual is enslaved, the thing that traps you and holds you into submission. It’s literally slavery as well as unbiblical behaviors, actions, gambling, pornography, drugs, alcohol, immorality, Unforgiveness, all sin enslaves us. Some people know what they are a slave to and have defeated it, others have not!
Since the dawn of creation humans have enslaved other humans! Even today in certain areas of Africa and across the Muslim Nation’s slavery continues on! At one time or another every people group has been enslaved. The Egyptians did it, the Greeks did it, the Romans did it, the Byzantine Empire did, the Ottoman Turkish Empire did it, the British Empire, the European monarchies of old kept its own citizens as serfs, slaves! Both France and Germany enslaved the Africans in their respective African colonies and killed hundreds of Thousands through forced labor.
I’m saddened to witness and experience the toxic racial division and anarchy that has formed in this country! This is not of God. Communism, Socialism, BLM, and Critical Race Theory are not of Adonai or His word! For over 3,500 years the greater Jewish community has celebrated Pesach through which we remember and celebrate our own redemption from slavery! Remembering is part of the healing process! Juneteenth is now a State and federal holiday! It’s a step in the right direction! But there are gigantic leaps that we still need to take. No matter what your skin, hair, or eye color is we’re all members of the human race! Why does every federal form ask what race you are? Why do loan applications ask yoru race? What matters is if you pay your bills on time, not what color you are! As Adonai Himself said:
I Samuel 16:7. But ADONAI said to Sh’mu’el, “Don’t pay attention to how he looks or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. ADONAI doesn’t see the way humans see – humans look at the outward appearance, but ADONAI looks at the heart.”
We will not submit to fear, we will not walk in fear, we will not be swayed by hatred, aggression, racism, disunity, Anti-Semitism, or any other divisive spirit! We will serve the Lord and move forward in God’s Word and in the Power of the Ruach! It took a small handful of brave, courageous people like W.E.B Dubois, Rosa Parks, Dr. King and others who had their eyes opened, who boldly stood for the freedom that was already granted 100 years earlier. It was the absolute resolve of tens of thousands of WWII African American veterans like the Red Tails of the Tuskegee Airman who had proven their equality on the battlefield. They fought to win freedom for our people, the Jewish People in the death camps, they liberated Europe and Asia yet returned home to face a life of segregation, inequality, racism, bigotry, and injustice. The very principles they were fighting for elsewhere in the world! Intentionality in relationship overcomes racism and Anti-Semitism.
As an ancient Native American Proverb states: “Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”. Yeshua’s warning speaks directly to us across the threads of time:
Mark 3:24-25. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom can’t survive; 25 and if a household is divided against itself, that household can’t survive.
The only way we will conquer, and defeat racism, prejudice, and Anti-Semitism is through focused intentionality, active dialogue, relationship, fellowship, and the Blood of Yeshua coupled with the Holy Spirit! Racism and prejudice are taught, not inherited! It won’t just go away! That which was taught can be untaught! In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”
May we pause June 19th to consider what this day represents and what we can do to move forward!
Blessings and Love,
Rabbi Eric S Carlson