Libertarian Party celebrates Juneteenth, self-ownership
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, General Gordon Granger issued the following order:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring all slaves in the rebelling states to be “henceforth and forever free.” To expand that rule throughout the Union, Congress in 1865 sent the Thirteenth Amendment to the states for ratification.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, but slow communication meant that word did not reach everywhere for some time. Many plantation owners waited until after the harvest to notify their slaves of their freedom. Some waited until a federal government agent or Union soldiers arrived. Because of the ambiguity in picking a single date to mark as “the end of slavery in the United States,” it became the widespread practice among black Americans to celebrate on June 19, and this date was eventually adopted as the official commemoration.
This month, the theme of the Libertarian Party is “You Own Yourself,” and that ties in directly to Juneteenth. One of the core principles of libertarianism is self-ownership. You, and only you, have the right to control your life and your body. No person is the property of others.
Libertarians stand for all of your freedoms, all of the time. The abolition of slavery was the greatest vindication of individual rights in American history, but government today still violates our rights in too many ways. Tragically, even the history of violent, government-imposed racism didn’t end in 1865. It’s something we still live with today. Racist Jim Crow laws gave way to mass incarceration. Chain-gang “vagrancy” laws were followed by the war on drugs. These new policies are as racist as the old ones ever were, with vastly negative and disproportionate effects on minority populations. To this day, the greatest racial disparity in federal sentencing and prosecutions isn’t even for drug laws. It’s for gun control laws.
Juneteenth is a day to commemorate how far we’ve come, but it’s not only that. It’s a day to rededicate ourselves to the principles that the day represents. Candidates like Maj Toure, who is running as the Libertarian Party candidate for Philadelphia City Council, are fighting against laws that have biased implementation and enforcement. In Philadelphia, for example, the gun control laws disproportionately restrict African Americans from owning firearms to protect themselves and their families. Want to find out more? Visit Maj’s campaign website: MajForPhilly.com