Updated: Jun 25, 2022
The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) was founded in 1968 to be the legal arm of the Movement for Black Liberation. Juneteenth is the commemoration of June 19, 1865, the day that General Gordan Granger rode by horseback into Galveston, TX and read General Order No. 3. This order informed the formerly enslaved that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln and effective on January 1, 1863, two and one-half years earlier.
Scholars and activists have noted that knowledge of the Emancipation Proclamation had reached Texas by word of mouth. However, the formal announcement was necessitated by the recalcitrance of the white enslavers in Texas to follow the law and free those they were enslaving. The enslaved needed the white federal government to announce the legal end of their enslavement for not only their ears but the ears of the white people who were flaunting the law to continue to gain from the forced, free labor of African peoples.
NCBL is the NCBL is the legal arm of the Movement for Black Liberation because the promise of liberation has not been fulfilled.
In virtually every area of life, the myth of inferiority created by white people undergirds the oppression of Black people and other people of color. This is the answer to Thomas Burrell’s question:
“Why, after all this time, when calculating the achievement of the ‘American dream’, are we still ranked at the bottom of almost every ‘good’ list and at the top of (most) ‘bad’ list(s)?”
Juneteenth reminds us that our full liberation continues to be blocked by white people, and their allies, including those in positions of authority in the federal and state governments, who seek to keep us in an inferior and disadvantaged position. The continuing abuse and disregard for our human and civil rights, including failure to enforce laws that protect our rights and condemn those who violate these rights, is why we must remember Juneteenth.
The work of liberation is not done.
Making Juneteenth a federal holiday – Liberation Day – is insufficient.
The United States must put meat on that bone and fully acknowledge and make reparations for the crimes against humanity it committed against African peoples.
These crimes include the enslavement of African peoples and the continuing vestiges of that enslavement confronted daily by Black people in virtually every area of life including employment, health care, education, economics, and criminal punishment.
Juneteenth reminds us to continue our work as the legal arm of the Black Liberation Movement until liberation is real.
NCBL National Board