This week, President Biden signed a bill to make Juneteenth an official federal holiday. The date commemorates the anniversary of Union army general Gordon Granger’s arrival in Texas to proclaim the end of slavery of the Civil War – over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Known also as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Freedom Day, Juneteenth marks an important and long overlooked day in the Nation’s history. After a year of nationwide protests and heightened public awareness around the need for for racial justice for Black communities, it’s also a time of reflection on the continued struggle for liberation. Our authors Orly Clerge and Andrea Boyles comment on what Juneteenth represents to them.
Juneteenth represents two realities for Black communities in the U.S., and globally: the continued struggle for liberation and Black cultural vibrancy. In Kaitlyn Greenidges’s article, she reminds us that slavery and emancipation histories differed across U.S. states in the North and South, compromising any simple ideas about the roots of American democracy.ORLY CLERGE
From the view of my book, The New Noir, Juneteenth symbolizes one of the many historically-denied markers of the powerful abolition, fugitive, and independence movements that forced U.S. and European empires to legally recognize the humanity of our enslaved African ancestors, from New York and Texas to Haiti and Brazil. More than a century later, Black communities around the globe continue to struggle for basic political rights. But Juneteenth also highlights that Black family, community, and culture remain strong despite white supremacy’s attempts to destroy it.
Orly Clerge is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of The New Noir (featured below), as well as coeditor of Stories from the Front of the Room: How Higher Education Faculty Overcome Challenges and Thrive in the Academy.
Mary C. Douglas Prize for Best Book 2020
C. Wright Mills Award Finalist 2019
In The New Noir, Orly Clerge explores the richly complex worlds of an extraordinary generation of Black middle class adults who have migrated from different corners of the African diaspora to suburbia. The Black middle class today consists of diverse groups whose ongoing cultural, political, and material ties to the American South and Global South shape their cultural interactions at work, in their suburban neighborhoods, and at their kitchen tables. Clerge compellingly analyzes the making of a new multinational Black middle class and how they create a spectrum of Black identities that help them carve out places of their own in a changing 21st-century global city.
Juneteenth means being in community with my people – exhaling and celebrating all things Black and beautiful. It is also a time for remembering racial disorder and injustices faced, as space for (re)activating Black revolutionary joy, empowerment, organization, and agendas for full liberation.ANDREA BOYLES
Andrea Boyles is currently a visiting Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies with Tulane University. She is an award-winning author of the books, You Can’t Stop the Revolution: Community Disorder and Social Ties in Post-Ferguson America (featured below) and Race, Place, and Suburban Policing: Too Close for Comfort.
You Can’t Stop the Revolution is a vivid participant ethnography conducted from inside of Ferguson protests as the Black Lives Matter movement catapulted onto the global stage. Sociologist Andrea S. Boyles offers an everyday montage of protests, social ties, and empowerment that coalesced to safeguard black lives while igniting unprecedented twenty-first-century resistance. Focusing on neighborhood crime prevention and contentious black citizen–police interactions in the context of preserving black lives, this book examines how black citizens work to combat disorder, crime, and police conflict. Boyles offers an insider’s analysis of cities like Ferguson, where a climate of indifference leaves black neighborhoods vulnerable to conflict, where black lives are seemingly expendable, and where black citizens are held responsible for their own oppression. You Can’t Stop the Revolution serves as a reminder that community empowerment is still possible in neighborhoods experiencing police brutality and interpersonal violence.