“I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.” – Bishop T. D. Jakes
I’m writing this on, Juneteenth, which has been a Federal holiday since 2021. A New York Times Article offers some history, “On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued nearly two and a half years earlier, on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln. The holiday is also called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
It took over two years for Texas slaves to even receive notice of their liberation—much less begin to enjoy it. The modern slogan, “Free-ish since 1865,” is a telling reminder that African-Americans in the US are still in the midst of a struggle for liberation. Some are critical of the US government for legislating the Juneteenth holiday…but not addressing the racism, brutality, oppression, economic inequities, confinements, and subjugation that still exists. To LIBERATE means to set someone free from a situation, especially imprisonment or slavery, in which their liberty is severely restricted; to free (a country, city, or people) from enemy occupation; to release someone from a state or situation that limits freedom of thought or behavior.
Juneteenth reminds us that freedom is not free. It has cost the lives of our ancestors…not just in death, but in honorable and dignified sacrifice. Think of the millions of slaves, whose free labor built this Country brick by brick, the Civil Rights Movement’s freedom riders, or the protestors whose feet were bruised and swollen from walking for 13 months straight in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Men, women, and children were assaulted in violent encounters with fire hoses, dogs, and police with billy clubs. Then and now, plots and schemes have been devised to suppress our votes, keep us undereducated, underemployed, on a prison pipeline, and away from economic prosperity. Less than 60 years ago, these history makers were doused with food and drinks at segregated lunch counters. They were demeaned, cursed, threatened, beaten, and imprisoned. Over the course of our history. entire cities of successful African-American families have been burned to the ground. Yet through all this warfare and struggle, our people have held their dignity. Many were Christ-followers, who brought to life the meaning of Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) TD Jakes said “Forgiveness liberates the victim.” If it did not, Black folks would not survive in America.
Racial injustice still occurs in blatant and subtle forms today…but…Jesus is a liberator! He announced this in Luke 4:18-19, KJV,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Give yourself the gift of liberation through forgiveness. Let The Liberator set you free.