How about we keep Juneteenth and lose Kwanzaa?
Abraham Lincoln is an amazing guy. He died over 150 years ago yet seems more relevant today than any of our living leaders. For timid congressional Republicans, then and now, he has this message: "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present."
He even has a timely rejoinder in the kneeling controversy. The famous Freedman's Memorial depicts Lincoln welcoming a slave off his knees to stand erect with his fellow Americans. This is in reference to a true incident, when Lincoln walked into Richmond, Va. with but a few sailors to guard him the day after it fell.
The black people in the streets were so overcome with emotion, they began bowing down to him. But he insisted: "You must kneel to God only and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy."
If I go to a ball game this year, during the anthem, I will either do a George Foreman and wave my own little flag or hold up a poster of the Memorial with the caption, "Lincoln says- Free people only kneel to God."
BLM types are furious that Lincoln and his Republicans get any credit for ending slavery. Slavery was everywhere throughout history, the normal condition of mankind. Only with the rise of the Christian West was it ended. In Muslim Africa, it quietly endures in some places even today.
This brings us to the proposed Juneteenth holiday to commemorate emancipation.
The actual date is at first glance an odd one: Juneteenth, June 19, the day from 1865 when federal forces in Texas took the Confederate surrender and sent word to the black population that they had been legally free since January 1, 1863, under Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. June 19 had no actual legal meaning.
Since Lincoln respected the rule of law, even in a civil war, he didn't believe he had the power to free slaves in areas already under federal control. Thus, his famous proclamation did not free all slaves. He had to get the 13th Amendment passed, and then ratified on December 6, 1865, to take care of remaining slaves in places like Delaware. December 6, though, is a problematic place to put a new holiday. It's already the well loved feast of St. Nicholas and is right in the middle of the Christmas season. January 1 also has some stuff going on.
Juneteenth has grown organically in the black neighborhoods of the American Southwest for obvious reasons. It's at a time when other patriotic holidays occur — Loyalty Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day — when the weather is nice and outdoor gatherings and parades are easy to do. And it has a highly affirmative purpose, celebrating the full inclusion of people of all races into our American civilization.
This is similar to Mexico's Cinco de Mayo, which was a minor holiday but grew in the late 20th century for unanticipated reasons. Now Juneteenth seems to be another little holiday with a big future.
This is all in contrast to the absurd celebration of Kwanzaa — a holiday made from whole cloth in 1966 by a hateful, racist nut, who was also an FBI informant. Kwanzaa is specifically a non-religious event. Just as George Washington canceled one stupid, offensive holiday, Mr. Trump might perhaps end this one, too, by ordering any official executive department activity or mention of Kwanzaa to cease.
But I am also thinking President Trump ought to go ahead to get the Juneteenth ball rolling, to recognize an American Emancipation Day for every June 19. Congress can then debate who if anyone actually gets a day off for that. But whatever form it finally takes, conservatives ought rush to embrace it, to make it an educational and meaningful day, where our traditional American ideals and God-given rights are again vindicated. Make it known that all Americans are invited to claim their liberty and the responsibilities of living in a free society.
Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.