Juneteenth is about our future

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At a time of such division in America, Juneteenth is as much about our future as it is a commemoration honoring our past. And in a time of political and philosophical polarization, Juneteenth gives us a moment to reflect on the realization that while racism and hatred will never end, we can at least make the effort to minimize them every day.

Juneteenth falls on Wednesday, June 19 this year. Since it became a federal holiday through the Juneteenth National Independence Act, it has grown in importance locally, statewide, and nationally. Portsmouth’s website lists some of the local events planned for the day, and activities in preparation. See cityofportsmouth.com

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, ending slavery throughout the Confederacy. However, the maintenance of that freedom for slaves depended on the advance of Union forces in the southern states. Texas, the most remote state of the Confederacy, was reached by Union forces two months after the end of the rebellion, and slavery was officially ended in that state on June 19, 1865. The effect of the Emancipation Proclamation was complete in the reunited United States of America.

However, as we have painfully learned, no proclamation would end racism and hatred, nor discrimination. No federal holiday or presidential signature can do this. No amount of books, editorials, columns, speeches or even prayers can end the attitude that continues to divide us.

The anti-Semitism that has spread too widely in recent months is indicative of both ignorance of the past and a prejudice that is all too inherent in our nation and our world. Too often we forget that the most valuable assets on our planet are people.

No, we are not more important than our planet itself, or the billions of other life forms on it. But humans, and humans alone, have the power to determine how we can save the Earth from destruction, and how we can protect the astonishing diversity of life forms that Mother Nature and God have entrusted to us.

And only humans have the ability and intelligence to determine how we can treat each other better. How you can learn to live together, respect each other and love each other.

Each of us only has a short time on this planet. There is nothing more important than the way we treat each other. If we would celebrate our mutual success and happiness and treat each other as equals worthy of sharing the beauty of our world and our abundance, we could end not only hatred, but also poverty and famine which affects more than half of the population on our continents. , including ours. The real problem is figuring out how to do it right.

But the shortage of precious time makes it difficult to get it right. Even those who live to be 80 years old have only 4,160 weeks to do it right. That may seem like a long time, or not much at all, depending on one’s perspective, but it certainly means we don’t have too much time to waste before a whole new world of people replace us and have to learn how to do that. hate, or how to love.

None of us are prejudiced or racist the day we are born. Such attitudes are learned and taught to us by others. Then we teach our young people about the attitudes we have acquired, good and bad. Too many of us have forgotten the innocence of youth.

Only we, as humans, can do that. America and our entire world have a troubling history. But over time, we are still a young planet. Let’s use our time to get it right.

Juneteenth status in New Hampshire: Juneteenth was an official federal holiday signed by President Joe Biden in 2021. In 2019, Governor Chris Sununu signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state celebration.

This year, Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka of Portsmouth was joined by Senator Debra Altschiller, Stratham; Donna Soucy and Lou D’Allesandro, Manchester; David Watters, Dover; and Rep. Charlotte DiLorenzo, Newmarket, in sponsoring legislation to formally adopt the federal holiday. Their bill passed in the Senate, but was defeated in the House of Representatives on May 9, 194-154. Let’s fix that quickly.

Today’s quote: “Love is so easy, it really is.” – Rev. Arthur Hilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, former member of the Portsmouth Police Commission. He said this during various meetings of the Police Commission.

The next time: The 10th annual Portsmouth Pride faces tough challenges.

Since 1969, Jim Splaine has served as a New Hampshire state senator for six years, a representative for 24 years, a member of the police commission and school board, assistant mayor of Portsmouth for 12 years, and a city councilman for 18 years. He can be reached at [email protected].