From a Pastor's Desk

A series of opinion articles from rostered ministers and lay leaders from our Synod.



Jun 15, 2021

By The Rev. Linda F. Bell, Program Chairperson - Metro New York African Descent Lutheran Association

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) is a holiday commemorating Emancipation Day, which marked the effective end of slavery in the United States of America.  Thus, the 19th of June is a special day in the lives of Americans of African Descent.
Juneteenth is a celebration because finally after two and a half years from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, it finally reached Galveston Texas, the most remote of the Southern slave holding states, with news that the Civil War ended and all enslaved were free.  General Order no. 3 was read on Monday June 19, 1865; the first Freedom celebrations began the following year in 1866.
For two and a half years, the status and conditions remained the same.  Enslaved African American people did not know they were free and continued to work and were treated as enslaved people.
Why did it take so long?  That's an interesting question.  There are varying opinions on this.  Some believe it took so long because of the loss to the economy if those enslaved were told they were free. Some say news travelled slowly. Some believe the original messenger was killed to prevent the news from being relayed or that the federal government purposely delayed the announcement to Texas to get one more cotton harvest out of the enslaved workers.  Some believe the real reason is probably that Lincoln's proclamation simply wasn't enforceable in the rebel states before the end of the war.
With this news there was a true celebration indeed.  This remembrance is important because it is part of our history and it's important because many continue to be enslaved today – more than150 years later.
It seems no matter how far we thought we have come; we realize we really haven't come that far.
Many people fail to acknowledge the reality that we are all one, - created in the image of God.
There is a sense of superiority that still exists after 400 years.  The first slave ship (the White Lion) arrived in Hampton Virginia (Point Comfort) in August 1619. 
We are at a pivotal time, once again, in American history.  It is imperative for society and the church to recognize and remedy the injustices that continue to perpetuate our lives.  My prayer is a continued march to lose the ties that bind all people for centuries.  During this Pentecost Season, my prayer is a continual renewing of the Holy Spirit in our midst to bring equality and justice to those in need.
God Be With Us.