Texans understand the significance of Juneteenth although many other Americans don’t. It’s high time that they did. And it’s also high time that Juneteenth became not only a national holiday but something else: A springboard.

A springboard? What in blazes am I talking about?

Well, listen up and I’ll tell you.

If you’re from Texas, chances are you know that Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day the very last slave was freed in Galveston when Union Gen. Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 from the balcony of Ashton Villa. No more slavery. Pretty awesome, right? Well, yes and no. Sure, slavery’s gone and that’s awesome. But what’s been left behind? The answer is racism in all its ugliness. Hardly awesome.

So let’s designate Juneteenth a national holiday and, at the same time, use its celebration as a springboard to launch a 21st century abolitionist movement dedicated to the eradication of racism.

A tall order? I don’t think so. If we Americans can put a man on the moon or “Stand Up to Cancer,” why can’t we rid ourselves of racism? The answer of course is that we can.

And how would we go about doing this? I have some thoughts:

How about having every high school and every college in the country offer a required course on Americanism, which would include reading books on racism with discussions to follow about its evils? How about having speakers come into those classes and talk about why racism is so divisive and damaging to our way of life? Next, using teleconferencing and social networking, how about having those discussions and lectures become national? Pretty soon, young people across the nation would begin to understand that what counts is not skin color; it’s all those other qualities that have made our country and its citizens so great. I say that if we did this and more, racism in the United States would become a thing of the past in 20 years.

Never forget: in 1852 a lady by the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” It was read by millions and fueled the anti-slavery movement — and, with its help, slavery was gone in the United States on Juneteenth, 13 years later.

My hope is that books on the evils of racism will become required reading in high schools and colleges across the country. And maybe, just maybe, they will spawn that desperately needed national discourse I’ve described on the horrors of racism. If that happened, racism might just disappear from our American culture in, say, 20 years — or even sooner. Now wouldn’t that be something.

Stephen L. Kanne is author of the novel 'The Lynching Waltz,' which he'll present it at the National Press Club June 17 in celebration of Juneteenth.

(4) comments

Walter Manuel

Mr. Kanne, your thoughts on ending racism is something that certainly needs to be addressed in America, however you never once mentioned that "parents or grandparents" should be teaching their children about "racism" in their own homes.

It is my understanding that "racism" is a learned behavior and is mirrored only by what others are teaching them by their own actions.

Perhaps before a child even begins school, they will have already been taught to respect one another and only then perhaps it's very possible that we can stop "labeling" people by the differences in the color of someone's skin and only then can we begin the battle to end racism?

Learning will ALWAYS begin and end at home, not just in the classroom. You know the saying, "give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and and you'll feed him for a lifetime". [smile]

George Croix

This article is like the notion of 'world peace'.....a great idea that will never, never, happen.
That's because there's no impetus to reverse human word and deed pitting one against the other since Man came to be.....
For instance, claiming racism in this country is big business....a necessity to keep the money coming in for so many 'leaders' and 'activists' making said claims of it at every utterance and shadow. They will never go quietly into being forced to earn an honest living.
Then, there's the use of it to excuse or try to ameliorate substandard performance, or to explain away any need for an honest evaluation of circumstances.
Further, it's a convenient bludgeon, as being accused of it scares many of the easily scared into not saying what they think.
Right here in this little area of the state, it's said by the usual suspects that the reason for the failure of a once proud school system isn't because of ineptness or refusing to accept badly needed help, but 'racism' was one of the players in the game..... I personally would agree with that, but only if the term is applied to the arguers of it rather than their targets.......
So, imho, despite the fervent wishes of anyone sane, there will NEVER be an end to actual, real racism any more than there will ever be world peace....not as long as multitudes of 1000 people can be told what to think by one, and go along with it....
It doesn't hurt to wish, though......

Walter Manuel

Your right Mr. Croix...."

True racism" is an easy excuse that no longer holds much meaning in our society any more because of it's overuse and it holds even less of a purpose with regards to LMISD.....[wink]

PD Hyatt

Racism is alive and well in ALL races. Racism will never end until children are not taught racism at home before they even go to school. There is more racism in the last 8 years than there has been in the last 50.... Racism will end one day and that is when Jesus Christ comes to call His church home.... Until then it will never happen....

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