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Juneteenth – a reminder of Delmarva’s racist history

While Salisbury University’s community members enjoy time off during summer, Juneteenth provides time for reflection on the United States’ history of racial conflict.

The day commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Texas to announce the end of the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation was quickly enforced, and the legal practice of slavery was abolished in the Confederate states, per The New York Times.

Unfortunately, discrimination and racism against America’s Black population would continue to plague the country for centuries to come.

Delmarva’s history is an example of why Juneteenth is both a time of celebration and a somber reminder that the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately end the horrors endured by African Americans.

The following information was obtained from A History of African Americans of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation did not affect Md. because it was not a state in open rebellion against the Union. The state’s slaves were not freed until the 13th Amendment was ratified in Dec. 1865.

This allowed Md. slave owners and supporters exercise their legal right to practice the cruel institution long after June 19.

Slavery after Juneteenth also continued in the Union state of Del. The state’s 1866 legislature “resolved that blacks were not the political or social equal of whites.”

Far beyond June 1865, Del. continued to resist the federal government’s efforts to establish equality.

Following Congress’ 1875 Civil Rights Act, a Jim Crow law was passed by the state’s legislature the same year. Black Delawareans continued to be politically recognized as second class citizens.

Juneteenth was a turning point for thousands of slaves throughout the American South who endured centuries of injustice. However, the Confederacy’s legacy continues to exhibit racism’s hold on America’s political and cultural institutions.

Doctor Andrea M. Kane, superintendent of Queen Anne County’s education, filed a federal complaint against her five-member body school board in Jan. 2021.

The accusations made include abhorrent allegations that “two board members defaced a photograph of an award-winning African American teacher at school headquarters in 2018,” according to The Baltimore Sun.

This Juneteenth, remember the progress made on June 19, 1865. A rebellion built on hate was abolished, and opportunity was opened for many Black Americans.

However, it is also a reminder that racism did not end in a single day throughout the country, especially on the Eastern Shore.



Editorial editor

Staff photo courtesy of Ben Lausch

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