Happy Juneteenth! Today is a day of celebration, and I encourage everyone to start this day listening to the Berkelee Jazz Ensembles soulful rendition of Lift Every Voice.
There is also a reflection I would like to share from the eminent historian Barbara C. Fields which forms the coda to Ken Burns The Civil War.
I think what we need to remember, most of all, is that the Civil War is not over until we, today, have done our part in fighting it, as well as understanding what happened when the Civil War generation fought it.
William Faulkner said once that history is not “was,” it’s “is,” and what we need to remember about the Civil War is that the Civil War “is,” in the present, as well as the past.
The generation that fought the war, the generation that argued over the definition of the war, the generation that had to pay the price in blood, that had to pay the price in blasted hopes and a lost future also established a standard that will not mean anything until we finish the work.
You can say there’s no such thing as slavery anymore, we’re all citizens. But if we’re all citizens, then we have a task to do to make sure that that, too, is not a joke. If some citizens live in houses and others live on the street, the Civil War is still going on. It’s still to be fought, and regrettably, it can still be lost
Today is a day to celebrate the good our country can do when people of goodwill fight to make it better. It is also a reminder that the work is unfinished and can still be undone.