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
We live in the freest land in the world, but that’s not enough for Libertarians.
Libertarians don’t want to be freest.
Libertarians want to be free.
Libertarians are all about liberty. We believe in freedom as our first and guiding principle. And we plan to win. In Maj Toure’s campaign, and many others, Libertarians are working to achieve practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies for winning elections. You see, there’s something a bit different about the Philadelphia City Council. Two at-large seats are officially reserved for members of parties other than the majority: in effect, non-Democrats. So, although Philly might be a deep-blue city, Maj doesn’t have to beat the Democrats. Maj only has to beat the Republicans, in a city where Donald Trump received just 15 percent of the vote.
Again, please visit MajForPhilly.com to find out more about this campaign.
Maj can win! Libertarians received more votes than Republicans in 2018 in the District of Columbia. Libertarians can compete in the cities where Republicans can’t, and for the most part don’t try. We can become the viable opposition to Democratic machine politics in these bastions of one-party rule. We’ve seen this in places like Riverside County, Calif., with the election of Jeff Hewitt, and in Walpole, Mass., where former Libertarian National Committee Secretary David Blau was elected to the town meeting. Likewise in deep red Texas, Libertarian Shannon Thomason was recently elected mayor of Big Spring.
Together, we can stop the injustices. The radical abolitionists of our past led to “a new birth of freedom.” Our nation was once challenged to “live up to the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” The light from the torch of liberty continues to guide our way.
From all of us in the Libertarian Party, happy Juneteenth.