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Juneteenth

June 19th, 2020, 8:47am by Sam Wang


The Civil War ended in April 1865, but news back then traveled slowly. On June 19, 1865, a Union general in Texas made a public declaration, which grew into the Juneteenth celebration and commemoration, observed by Black Americans starting in the 1880s. Today, Juneteenth is observed in some manner in 49 out of 50 states. As of this year, it’s a Princeton University holiday.

It’s been a tough road since the first Juneteenth. Southern whites continued the Civil War past 1865 in the form of local rebellions. They were able to turn back civil rights and voting rights for a century (and longer). Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the Jim Crow era are fascinating – I encourage you to read about the period. The best sources are Eric Foner’s Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution and W.E.B. DuBois’s Black Reconstruction. For a deep dive, I recommend Richard White’s The Republic For Which It Stands.

From a political standpoint, I think we are in a second Gilded Age (here are two podcasts I did on the subject). The comparisons are only getting more intense – but I think in a good way. The Gilded Age was followed by the Progressive Era. People are more engaged than ever, on race and on other issues. I am optimistic about the next few years.

Right now, there’s a lot to do in order to get there. Here at PEC, we will be rolling out resources to help you exert maximum influence, via this year’s campaign, on what the political and civil rights landscape will look like in 2021 and beyond.

Happy Juneteenth.

Tags: 2020 Election · Princeton

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