The fact that slaveholders extracted thirty additional months of
uncompensated labor from people who had been bought, sold, and
worked to exhaustion, like livestock, throughout their lives is
cause for mourning, not celebration. In honoring that moment, we
should recognize a moral at the heart of that day in Galveston and
in the entirety of American life: there is a vast chasm between
the concept of freedom inscribed on paper and the reality of
freedom in our lives.
In that regard, Juneteenth exists as a counterpoint to the Fourth
of July; the latter heralds the arrival of American ideals, the
former stresses just how hard it has been to live up to them.