“I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard!”
— William Lloyd Garrison
Garrison’s quote rings in my head over and over as we inch closer and closer to June 19, 2015. For some it will be just another day on the calendar, but for many it will be a day of celebration. It is our job to make sure the world hears about Galveston and that slavery ended here in 1865.
Garrison was an abolitionist and he fought against slavery. Garrison worked very closely with Frederick Douglass. Garrison was one of Douglass’ greatest supporters and a close friend until Douglass exercised his free will to make decisions that Garrison did not agree with.
Almost 150 years after Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, many things have changed, but some things remain the same. Officially, slavery ended in the United States on Dec. 18, 1865. For the enslaved men, women and children of Texas, slavery ended on June 19, 1865.
The question is not are we a better nation, state or city, but can we become a better nation, state or city? Being better than your worst state of being does not mean you are at your best. What will it take for Galveston to make the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth the best celebration ever?
The Galveston Chamber of Commerce, the Galveston Historical Foundation, the elected officials of Galveston, the Galveston Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Galveston County Daily News and the community at large all want to see a successful Juneteenth in 2015.
The chamber’s mission is to promote and advocate for business. The business community generates revenues that support nonprofit organizations like the chamber. The Juneteenth sesquicentennial celebration is good for business. It will be one of the most marketable events to hit the island in many years.
Because of this fact the community needs the full support of the chamber and all of its resources. Who has the right to tell our Juneteenth story? We all have a vested interest in the Juneteenth story and a responsibility to share it. Juneteenth celebrates the evolution of our country to a more perfect union.
Garrison and Douglass were not perfect men. They did not agree on everything, but one thing they did agree on was that slavery was wrong. There are many opinions on the island, but we should agree on one thing. We should all value freedom like we value oxygen.
We can survive in bondage, but we cannot thrive in bondage. Douglass had to be free to thrive. Like Douglass and Garrison, our methods of how to achieve our common goal may not be the same. Nevertheless, we can still work toward a common goal.
The goal of our Juneteenth 2015 efforts should be:
1. More visitors to the entire Galveston County region to learn about Juneteenth.
2. More financial support for events.
3. A more inclusive celebration.
Samuel L. Collins III of Hitchcock is involved in historic organizations at the local, state and national level.