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OPINION: Liberty, Justice And Juneteenth For All

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Written by Terri Austin

The phrases, “liberty and justice for all,” have been recited by faculty youngsters throughout America since they have been written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. However for a lot of youngsters of coloration, these phrases merely don’t ring true.

As we have fun Juneteenth in lots of states throughout the nation, we have to decide methods to make these phrases apply to everybody in america, no matter race, coloration or nationwide origin. On June 19, 1865, the Union Military lastly introduced Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation liberating the remaining slaves in Texas. Lincoln’s proclamation was truly issued on September 22, 1862, however it took almost three years for the information to succeed in Texas.

However the finish of slavery was not the start of freedom for blacks in America. As soon as slavery ended, Black individuals have been topic to a sequence of Jim Crow laws. These legal guidelines have been designed to maintain Black individuals from succeeding socially, politically and economically. These legal guidelines have been strengthened by the Supreme Courtroom’s 1896 determination in Plessy vs. Ferguson the place the court docket dominated that separate however equal segregation of Black and white individuals was constitutional.

RELATED: Senate Passes Bill to Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

Classic illustration contains a group of African-People dancing in celebration for Juneteenth, also referred to as Freedom Day,.

Vintage illustration features a group of African-Americans dancing in celebration for Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day,.

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Below Jim Crow legal guidelines, African People have been disenfranchised by racial gerrymandering which diluted the Black vote throughout districts making it tough for Black individuals to consolidate votes and to elect particular candidates. Banks, actual property builders, and different establishments additionally participated within the redlining of Black neighborhoods. In redlined districts, loans and different investments inside these neighborhoods have been thought-about dangerous and due to this fact these communities of coloration remained underfunded and underdeveloped.

In the end, the U.S. Supreme Courtroom declared that segregation in public colleges was unconstitutional within the 1954 landmark determination in Brown vs Board of Education. Ten years later, many of the remaining Jim Crow legal guidelines have been successfully abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act one 12 months later in 1965.

However the story doesn’t finish there. Even after the abolishment of Jim Crow legal guidelines and even after the passage of landmark laws, america basically remained a two-tiered system of liberty and justice. Right now, what’s left is a felony justice system the place Black and brown males are incarcerated at charges that far exceed their white counterparts. Slavery formally ended over 150 years in the past, and but a disproportionate variety of Black individuals stay at revenue ranges under the poverty line. And even when African People have tried to amass wealth and to realize the American dream, incidents just like the Tulsa Massacre in May 1921, and the Unite the Proper Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, remind us that racism and discrimination are removed from over in america.

RELATED: Louisiana Becomes Latest State To Make Juneteenth A Holiday

Flood refugees lined up and ready for meals at a short lived camp for African People. Forrest Metropolis, Arkansas, February 1937.

Flood refugees lined up and waiting for food at a temporary camp for African Americans. Forrest City, Arkansas, February 1937.

(Picture by © CORBIS/Corbis by way of Getty Photographs)

Actually, systemic or institutional racism permeates the very core of our social, political and financial programs. Though there are numerous on the political proper who would deny the existence of systemic racism in america, this type of racism at present exists in all points of society together with employment, housing, felony justice, healthcare, training.

For instance, communities of coloration have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic due to greater charges of pre-existing circumstances. One might simply argue that pre-existing circumstances like heart disease and diabetes are the direct results of lack of wholesome meals sources and ample healthcare assets.

RELATED: Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth A National Holiday, 156 Years After Its Beginning

Systemic racism additionally permeates police departments throughout america. We’d like solely have a look at the capturing and killing of Black males, girls and youngsters by cops in recent times together with Eric Garner in New York Metropolis in 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014, Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, Sandra Bland in Hempstead, Texas in 2015, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020, and naturally, the brutal homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020. And the checklist continues.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 20: People march through the streets after the verdict was announced for Derek Chauvin on April 20, 2021 in Atlanta, United States. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd May 25, 2020. After video was released of then-officer Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, protests broke out across the U.S. and around the world. The jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

(Picture by Megan Varner/Getty Photographs)

Systemic racism additionally permeates state legislatures throughout the nation. State legislatures have been emboldened by the 2013 landmark Supreme Courtroom determination in Shelby County vs Holder which struck down a number of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This led the best way for state legislatures to additional erode the suitable to vote and to additional disenfranchise the Black vote. 

Stricter identification necessities and different voter reforms in Florida, Texas, and Georgia have made it far harder to vote. For instance, in March 2021, Georgia enacted stricter voter identification necessities, restricted the distribution of meals and water, and decreased the variety of official poll containers. In a latest press convention, President Joe Biden stated that these makes an attempt to restrict voting rights “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.

One has to wonder if there’ll ever be liberty and justice for all in america. The primary slave ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619. 4 hundred years later, individuals of coloration nonetheless expertise racism and inequalities. We could by no means change the best way some individuals really feel about individuals of coloration, however we will combat for liberty and justice by supporting voting rights laws just like the For the People Act, also referred to as HR 1. And with the assistance of Legal professional Normal Merrick Garland, who just lately stated that the Justice Division will dramatically enhance its deal with voter suppression, there’s hope that in the future there’ll truly be liberty and justice for all.

Terri Austin is an lawyer and authorized analyst who has appeared on a variety of networks together with ABC Information, CBS Information, Courtroom TV, Fox 11, Inside Version, and Legislation and Crime. She beforehand served as an Adjunct Professor at USC, Annenberg College of Journalism. Previous to that, she served in quite a few roles together with Chief Company Coverage Officer for S&P World, Chief Variety Officer for AIG, Litigation Affiliate at Richards & O’Neil, and Assistant Counsel on the New York Metropolis Legislation Division. Ms. Austin holds a BA in political science from Grinnell Faculty, a JD from Columbia College College of Legislation, and a MS diploma from the Columbia College of Journalism.

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