A Devotion by Quest Hunter
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:32
July 4th, 2021 is different this year. In the past celebrations of America’s independence day, I as a Black American woman, could not celebrate wholeheartedly. America’s notion of freedom has not included all its citizens. In 1776, the year that marked America’s freedom from British rule, Black Americans were still held under White supremacy’s yoke of suppression. Treated as nothing more than human cattle.
On the night of December 31st, 1862, enslaved mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers gathered. In barns, churches, houses, and homes, praying and waiting. Waiting to hear if Abraham Lincoln signed into law the emancipation proclamation. A proclamation freeing Black Americans from the bondage of slavery. On that night, which in many Black cultures call “Watchnight,” the Black ancestors’ dreams came true, the prayers of the afflicted were answered, and the seeds of hope finally bloomed after 400 years. The enslaved were finally free on this American land.
Despite the enactment of the emancipation proclamation, most slave masters did not tell the enslaved Blacks that they were freed. The announcement of freedom came through the volunteer Union Army of Black soldiers. These Black soldiers traveled along with Officer Gordon Granger during the day, and at night raced, to plantations proclaiming freedom for their enslaved brothers and sisters. When finally reaching Texas on June 19th, 1865, the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery, these Black soldiers told a truth that finally set the people free! Thus, the newly enacted national holiday Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of June 19, 1865.
This truth, hidden for two years from enslaved citizens, reminds me of the many parts of history that are overlooked and soon to be banned in the public schools of 13 states throughout the United States.
This year, as we celebrate July 4th, 2021, let us remember the truth. Despite the continued enslavement of Black Americans on July 4th, 1776, freedom was on the way and the peoples’ faith and hope continued in spite of the lack of truth.
As a nation, let us not forget the truth of our past. No matter how painful our truth is. As an unacknowledged truth halts progression both in personal life and life as a collective. May our Lord reveal a truth that sets us free as a nation to see freedom as a humanity issue, not race. So that when we celebrate the 4th of July this year, may we realize that life beyond ignorance is a life of completion. That all citizens are in fact free in the eyes of the Lord.
Good God Almighty open our eyes to teach and be taught. To listen and to be heard. So that we see our humanity in the face of a free nation that acknowledges its truth.
Quest Hunter is a candidate for ministry from Catalina United Methodist Church, Tucson.