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Discovering Juneteenth

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A white woman,
I had learned
the history of horrors:
grisly holds of jammed slave ships,
cruel auctions of black families torn apart,
picnics at lynchings of castrated bodies.

Then at seventy-five
I learned, dismayed,
that it took two full years for news of
Lincoln's proclamation
to reach slaves in Texas,
not knowing they were free until
June 19, 1865.

Seventy-five before I learned
of what has been Blacks'secret holiday,
Juneteenth.
Finally, a national day for all to celebrate,
to honor the heroines who give us hope
from Sojourner Truth to Ruby Bridges,
from Phyllis Wheatley to Alice Walker,
from Rosa Parks to Michele Obama,
from Harriet Tubman to Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Pat McCutcheon

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