This Juneteenth: Where's the nation now?

DALLAS — Think of Juneteenth as a Black Fourth of July or Black Independence Day.

"Yeah, you could call it that," said Jearldine McDaniel, a participant at today's Juneteenth celebration at the MLK Center in Dallas.

Two-and-half years after Lincoln freed the slaves, word of the Emancipation Proclamation had not made it to Texas, likely suppressed by white slaveholders. On June 19, 1865, a Union general landed at the Port of Galveston and told a crowd that all slaves were now free.

"We were freed, and so that's a big celebration," said Gwen Johnson, who was out celebrating Friday. "That's cause for celebration."

It's been a long, national march from slavery to now. That road that includes this week's mass murder of nine black individuals by a white man at a South Carolina church.

And so, this time around, Juneteenth comes in the midst of a difficult year of racial tension. Reporter David Schechter asked some of the people on hand where they think the nation is now, on its racial journey.

"Honestly, since recent events sometimes I feel like we're taking a backwards step," Johnson said. "I don't think it's a progression. I think we're kind of stepping back."

"From one to 10? At one point we may have been at an eight, but now we're back to five," said another. "That's not good."

"Well, I should say 80 percent right now," said Jearldine McDaniel. "So, we got a long way still."

"If you ask me, it's definitely better," said Danielle Garner. "I would much rather live in this generation than my ancestors did. It's definitely getting better and I think we're all going to be united as one, soon," she added.

And what can move us beyond this?

"Actually, I just think that if people learn to love one another it'll change. Get hate out of your heart and put love, I think things will change," Johnson said.

A happy thought on a happy day.


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