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Juneteenth is a celebration for everyone - The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns

July 5, 2015

Guest column Juneteenth is a celebration for everyone

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Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:20 am

In a little more than two months, we will celebrate Juneteenth.

Each year, individuals and communities around the world gather to commemorate the day Gordan Granger announced General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865, in Galveston that informed the residents of Texas that slavery had ended.

The official end of American slavery would not come until December 1865 with the 13th Amendment to the constitution, but the former enslaved people in Texas decided to celebrate the day Union Soldiers announced slavery was over.

James Oliver Horton said “History matters. It provides our identity, it structures our relationships, and it defines the terms of our debates.”

Bernard and Shirley Kinsey have spent a lifetime collecting and saving history because it matters. It matters how we tell the story. I spoke with Mr. Kinsey last week about coming to speak to us to encourage us to broaden the discussion about Juneteenth.

Galveston is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. This year is only the beginning. Mr. Kinsey can raise the bar with regards to our perspective of the past. Not just about remembering our past, but inspiring our future.

The Kinsey Collection is touring the country and changing the way we see history. It is helping us to appreciate the contributions of African-Americans to the building of our great country.

What if instead of seeing Juneteenth as an African-American holiday we see it as part of our pursuit of a more perfect union? How does it change the conversation about the potential of a national celebration if the conversation became less about us and them and more about we?

We have a reason to celebrate. Humanity has a reason to celebrate the end of American slavery.

Anyone who believes in freedom has a reason to celebrate Juneteenth.  

Growing up, you likely had several family members with different birthdays. How would you feel if no one wanted to celebrate your birthday?

Some feel American citizens have one Independence Day — the Fourth of July. We are one country, and we are the home of the brave.

Juneteenth and the Fourth of July are like two birthdays of two different individuals. Both should be celebrated without exclusion of the other.

In honor of the 150th celebration of Juneteenth next year, it would be great if we could get 150 people to give $100 each to cover the $15,000 cost to bring Mr. Kinsey to Galveston. That does not include the Kinsey Collection exhibit.

The budget will cover his speaking fee, travel, hotel, venue and local artist Ted Ellis. If you are interested in helping to bring Mr. Kinsey to the area, send $100 to Stringfellow Orchards, PO Box 446, Hitchcock, TX 77563, or email me at mrslc3@hotmail.com to see how you can help.