The Atlantic

Celebrating Juneteenth in a Moment of Peril

The holiday celebrates the emancipation of American slaves—and a citizenship that has never quite been fully granted.
Source: David Paul Morris / Getty

Across most of the reaches of the United States, the originally Texan holiday of Juneteenth is ascending in importance as a national commemoration of the emancipation of American slaves. The practices are fittingly patchwork. There are parades, symbolic baptisms, cookouts, family reunions, spades games, durag festivals, and nighttime vigils at churches. Different communities’ celebrations of emancipation are a bit like quilts, stitched together from patches of the past and present, the things carried and the things hoped for, built from cherished achievements and scraps alike. No two pieces are the same, but all that matters in the end is the warmth.

This Juneteenth, circumstances conspire to make one piece of that patchwork all the more prominent. Perhaps more so than at any time in the recent past, there is a

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