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Celebrate Liberty for all on Juneteenth—and Reject Race-Based Separatism

June 19, 2023

When President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021, he told reporters that “all Americans can feel the power of this day.” He was right: Every American, whether descended from slaves or not, can and should celebrate the anniversary of emancipation.

This country was dedicated at its birth to the proposition that “all” people are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” True, those words were written by flawed men, some of whom owned slaves themselves. But the founders were not trying to fix all injustices overnight; they were proclaiming what Abraham Lincoln would later call a “maxim for free society,” which would be “constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated” by future generations. That maxim is the source of our national identity, and that “constant labor” is cause for rejoicing.

How sad, then, that we are beset today by alleged champions of justice who seek not to reinforce but to undermine that maxim, not to realize the spirit of Juneteenth but to undermine it and instill the notion that people should be treated differently based on race. Those who vanquished slavery believed in realizing the American dream for everyone. But today’s race-politics leaders pursue the opposite goal: fracturing us into camps defined by ancestry.

Read the rest of the op-ed at Washington Examiner.

Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.



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