Juneteenth was made a national holiday last year. It is a serious historical day when slaves in Texas were finally freed two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became law. Because of the nature of the day, one report explores concerns over teaching about it due to the current political climate surrounding Critical Race Theory (CRT).
In truth, most schools have already been let out for summer break. Though some summer programs are in session, those mostly focus on hands-on learning projects and are not centered around social studies lessons. Regardless, Newsweek thought it important to point out that banning CRT may scare educators out of being able to openly discuss Juneteenth.
There have been no public statements made by conservative politicians, conservative celebrities, or conservative parents decrying Juneteenth. Why? Because this new national holiday holds importance to all. It is not a day to divide or push one-sided politics. It is merely a celebration which recognizes that not all slaves were freed when they should have been. All Americans can easily recognize the horror of that and celebrate the fact that this affront to law and order was rectified.
In fact, Newsweek itself ran a piece titled, “My Fellow Conservatives: Let’s Embrace the Spirit of Juneteenth.” Despite their claim that teachers may feel unable to discuss events in history due to bans of CRT, no teachers were cited, and not one instance was described. So are teachers truly afraid of discussing Juneteenth in class?
While it may be possible, it’s unconfirmed. Comparing bans on teaching CRT to teachers’ apprehensions regarding other subjects does nothing to offer a clear picture of a clear problem. If teachers are afraid to present certain materials or ideas to students they can speak with their school’s principal or superintendent to gain clearance. What’s more, CRT is said by many to be a politically biased ideology which preaches that America is systematically racist, white people are racist by nature, and that identity is more important to a person’s being than the content of their character and the actions they use to display who they are inside. Juneteenth, on the other hand, celebrates freedom and justice; the pillars of American values.
Parents from all walks of life have expressed concerns over race-based school practices which use what a person looks like to determine how they are treated instead of their abilities and work ethic. CRT may go against everything the United States stands for. It is said to teach children to hate themselves, their country, and the constitution that protects their inherent rights. By contrast, Juneteenth reminds all Americans of the struggles that black slaves faced and how many were unfairly denied their constitutional rights until they were able to challenge those in power who refused to recognize them as people. It is a day to celebrate the justice system and everyone who worked together to ensure that the nation afforded equal opportunities to all who sought them.
If teachers are afraid to educate children about Juneteenth because they believe it is similar to CRT lessons, they do not understand the difference between a doctrine and a historical event. While both affect how minorities, especially black students, are recognized in the classroom, they support conflicting principles. Being that most schools are not in session during the June 19th holiday, and teachers can consult school officials if experiencing issues, the CRT debate likely has nothing to do with Juneteenth and vice versa.