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Letter to the Editor: Juneteenth Flag – Symbolism Abounds

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper. Received June 22, 2021.

I am sharing a description of the Juneteenth Flag and my reflections on the symbolism. What does it say to you folks?

(From CNN) “You might see another red, white and blue flag flying today over state capitols and city buildings. That banner with a bursting star in the middle is the Juneteenth Flag, a symbolic representation of the end of slavery in the United States. The flag is the brainchild of activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF). Haith created the flag in 1997 with the help of collaborators, and Boston-based illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf brought their vision to life. The flag was revised in 2000 into the version we know today, according to the National Juneteenth Observation Foundation. Seven years later, the date ‘June 19, 1865’ was added, commemorating the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told enslaved African Americans of their emancipation.” 

The Star

I recall this poem by James Weldon Johnson. With his brother John Rosamond Johnson wrote the Black National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” while they lived in Jacksonville, FL 1900-1905. It was sung for the first time in 1905.

In honor of the birthday of civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), The Jaguars Foundation and the Khan Family announced that they will donate $250,000 in support of the creation of the Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park. By a strange coincidence James Weldon Johnson’s Birthday is 06 17 1871 which is also the date of the assassinations of the Emmanuelle Nine in 2015. 

Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam
Of our bright star is cast”  

The Burst 

I offer you this message from our beloved revered, martyred brother Dr. King’s moving Our God is Marching on at the end of the momentous Selma to Montgomery speech on March 26,1965 which is as significant for African American independence struggle as the Concord Bridge fight was for American Independence. 

“We’ve come a long way since that travesty of justice was perpetrated upon the American mind. James Weldon Johnson put it eloquently. He said: 

We have come over a way
That with tears hath been watered. (Yes, sir)
We have come treading our paths
Through the blood of the slaughtered. (Yes, sir)
Out of the gloomy past, (Yes, sir)
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam
Of our bright star is cast. (Speak, sir)  

The ARC 

To me it also represents the ARC of the Moral Universe that we must strive resourcefully and unremittingly to bend it towards Justice. How long? not long…the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. From our beloved revered martyred Brother Martin’s “Our God is marching on” speech at the conclusion of the March from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama, March 26, 1965. 

{But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycott—and one day, she was asked while walking if she didn’t want to ride. And when she answered, “No,” the person said, “Well, aren’t you tired?” And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” (Yes, sir. All right) And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, (Yes, sir) but our souls are rested.} 

On June 18th when we our President Biden signed the Federal Law declaring Juneteenth a National Holiday with an African American-Asian Woman Vice-President, Ms. Kamal Harris conducting the event. I can say my soul felt rested even though I was exhilarated, physically excited and experiencing profound gratitude within.  

The Colors 

From CNN: “The Red, White and Blue represents the American flag, a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are Americans. June 19, 1865, represents the day that enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, became Americans under the law.” 

Our God is Marching On! | The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute (stanford.edu) 

Velandy Manohar, MD
Haddam, CT

Distinguished Life Fellow – Am. Psychiatric Association
Medical Director- Aware Recovery Care-CT[ARC]
President, ARC- In Home Addiction Treatment, PC
Chair, Community Engagement and Outreach Standing Comm,
Community Advisory Council, Office of Health Strategy-CT

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