Juneteenth Day … So What … Big Deal!

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Excuse me if I do not get goose bumps over celebrating Juneteenth Day. You know, the date, or is it the month (?) that slaves in west Texas were told, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that they were free.

Now, since slaves, back in the day, did not cell phones and much less the battery chargers to keep their phones alive, we will have to assume that such celebratory news did not reach them because Massa still wanted to drain as much free labor as he possibly could from them before the “jig” was up.

For certain, those slaves and their progeny were and are most righteous in celebrating their “freedom,” two years later than their earlier freed brethren, but…what is the reason that Black Americans may still celebrate that isolated incident of being free from human bondage?

Now, if the celebration of Juneteenth since 1865 to present date resulted in any of the following positive developments, sign me up for a pointed party hat and strawberry ice cream, but if not, take your whistles and confetti and go sprinkle it elsewhere:

(1) Do we have a centralized Black bank that has amassed capital more than 20 billion dollars that can be used for economic development? ____yes___no.

(2) Are the Black churches in your neighborhoods doing anything other than food giveaways,

fish fries (probably not even Perch fish!) and hundred-dollar scholarships? __yes ___no.

(3) Is the rate of Black On Black (B.O.B.) Crime going down in your community? ___yes__no.

(4) Are you registered to vote and do you know your proper voting precinct? ___yes___no.

(5) Is your community still being “redlined” by the local white banks? ___yes___no.

(6) Have you ever complained to any “inner city” store owner about the appearance of their

stores in your area? ___yes___no.

(7) Did you vote in the last local election? ___yes___no.

(8) When was the last time you had a health checkup about cancer or your blood pressure or

being a possible diabetic? ___can’t recall ___never have.

(9) When you saw a crime being committed, did you report it? ___yes___no.

(10) Do you adhere to a moral code for your personal conduct? ___yes___no.

(11) When asked to help in picking up trash in your community, do you volunteer to do

so? ___yes ___no.

(12) Do you regularly read to stay informed about issues that affect you? ___yes___no.

(13) If you could steal a thousand dollars and no one saw you, would you do it? __yes


(14) Are you driving on an expired license? ___yes___no.

(15) When you are asked to serve on a jury, do you follow through? ___yes___no.

(16) Are you able to financially withstand a $500.00 emergency ___yes___no.

(17) Do you use the ‘N’ word when talking with your family or friends? ___yes___no.

(18) If divorced and you have kids, do you gladly pay child support? __yes___no.

(19) Are you doing anything educationally or culturally to better yourself? ___yes___no.


There. If Juneteenth fell on the 19th of June, I have just given you 19 thoughts to ponder to see if you are “worthy” of celebrating a holiday that has morphed into a celebration of Black life.

But, is it?

If all we have is a day in June to whoopee it up about the end of slavery in western Texas

and that being over a 150 years ago, we are a people most to be pitied.

To this very day we are still fighting voter suppression laws, too many single-family homes,

police brutality, raising monies in our churches to give “fat-cat” gifts to the preacher on his or her anniversary and wasted time watching Beyonce type celebrities shake their booties and we call that entertainment!

If we are going to honor the history behind a Juneteenth celebration, make sure that what you are honoring has substance and adds value to your living and is uplifting and productive.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com