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Paul S. Bracy, Founder of the Dock C. Bracy Center, Delivers Remarks at the Juneteenth Flag Raising
The following remarks were given by Paul S. Bracy, Founder of the Dock C. Bracy Center for Human Reconciliation on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at the Juneteenth flag raising in Bridgewater, Massachusetts:
I want to thank the town Bridgewater, the Bridgewater Communities for Civil Rights organization, the organizers for this day of remembrance and having the honor of speaking to you.
Make no mistake this is not a minor event, and neither was the raising of the PRIDE flag. Bridgewater is making a statement of its commitment to inclusion.
June 19th, 1865, the day enslaved people in Texas found out they had been emancipated, (free from legal, social, or political restrictions)
This was not a congressional act, rather it was a wartime proclamation by President Lincoln as Commander and Chief which affected only the states that had rebelled against the United States. Border southern states who sided with the Union were not included in the proclamation, thus slavery continued in these states until the passage of the 13th Amendment to the constitution. The proclamation was not an apology, it was a political act.
Why it took so long in Texas, plantation owners had to decide when and how to announce the news — or wait for a government agent to arrive — and it was common for them to delay until after the harvest.
Probably the most important aspects of the Proclamation were it allowed formerly enslaved people to search for their family members who they had been separated from, marry, have a first and last name. However, the tyranny of racial oppression did not stop and has continued to this day.
I learned of Juneteenth in my early 30's and the recognition of this day was called "Home Coming" a time for family gathering and rededication to gain true emancipation, free of legal, social, or political restrictions. Can there be true emancipation without atonement (taking action to correct previous wrongdoing on their part) from those who enslaved? I would say No. However, atonement can still occur today by the heirs who inherited this history and its outcomes.
The Juneteenth flag raising, the national recognition, the community celebrations, ring hollow without atonement. This country has yet to atone for the near annihilation of indigenous people, the dislocation of Mexicans who resided in the country before the arrival of Europeans, and the enslavement of Africans.
What is required is the same kind of personal commitment, vison, and persistence displayed by those who were no longer enslaved.
We can transform our society and make real what we ask our children to believe when they pledge allegiance to our flag every day in school: "…with liberty and justice for all…" We can do it.
I created the Dock C. Bracy Center for Human Reconciliation because I believe atonement can happen and true emancipation for all of us can be a reality in this country. Atoning gives us the opportunity to remove the shackles of white supremacy from both the oppressed groups and the oppressor group. We can do it!
Enjoy the upcoming Juneteenth celebration and make a personal commitment to be part of the solution. As Mahatma Gandhi said 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'
Thank you for your time and the honor of speaking to you today.
About Bridgewater Communities for Civil Rights (BCCR)
Bridgewater Communities for Civil Rights is a community-based organization dedicated to defending the rights of all persons, while fostering open communication, providing opportunities to examine issues of social justice, and advocating for the elimination of bias and racism. Visit https://www.bccrcivilrights.org for more informaiton.
About the Dock C. Bracy Center for Human Reconciliation
The Dock C. Bracy Center is committed to human reconciliation and the eradication of racism and other forms of human oppression. Our work focuses on healing the internal emotional and cognitive harms that have allowed racism to continue to thrive in our society. We support the efforts of many other groups and individuals by providing opportunities for learning and self-reflection so that strategies to eradicate racism (https://www.dcbcenter.org/