OPINION: Is It Really Liberty, Justice And Juneteenth For All?



The phrases, “liberty and justice for all,” have been recited by college kids throughout America since they had been written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. However for a lot of kids of shade, these phrases merely don’t ring true.

As we rejoice Juneteenth in lots of states throughout the nation, we have to decide easy methods to make these phrases apply to everybody in the US, no matter race, shade or nationwide origin. On June 19, 1865, the Union Military lastly introduced Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation releasing the remaining slaves in Texas. Lincoln’s proclamation was truly issued on September 22, 1862, nevertheless it took almost three years for the information to succeed in Texas.

However the finish of slavery was not the start of freedom for blacks in America. As soon as slavery ended, Black individuals had been topic to a collection of Jim Crow legal guidelines. These legal guidelines had been designed to maintain Black individuals from succeeding socially, politically and economically. These legal guidelines had been strengthened by the Supreme Court docket’s 1896 resolution in Plessy vs. Ferguson the place the courtroom dominated that separate however equal segregation of Black and white individuals was constitutional.

RELATED: Senate Passes Invoice to Make Juneteenth A Federal Vacation

Classic illustration incorporates a group of African-Individuals dancing in celebration for Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day,.

Vintage illustration features a group of African-Americans dancing in celebration for Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day,.

Getty Photographs

Beneath Jim Crow legal guidelines, African Individuals had been disenfranchised by racial gerrymandering which diluted the Black vote throughout districts making it tough for Black individuals to consolidate votes and to elect particular candidates. Banks, actual property builders, and different establishments additionally participated within the redlining of Black neighborhoods. In redlined districts, loans and different investments inside these neighborhoods had been thought-about dangerous and due to this fact these communities of shade remained underfunded and underdeveloped.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court docket declared that segregation in public faculties was unconstitutional within the 1954 landmark resolution in Brown vs Board of Schooling. Ten years later, a lot of the remaining Jim Crow legal guidelines had been successfully abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act one yr later in 1965.

However the story doesn’t finish there. Even after the abolishment of Jim Crow legal guidelines and even after the passage of landmark laws, the US basically remained a two-tiered system of liberty and justice. Right this moment, what’s left is a prison justice system the place Black and brown males are incarcerated at charges that far exceed their white counterparts. Slavery formally ended over 150 years in the past, and but a disproportionate variety of Black individuals stay at earnings ranges under the poverty line. And even when African Individuals have tried to amass wealth and to realize the American dream, incidents just like the Tulsa Bloodbath in Might 1921, and the Unite the Proper Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, remind us that racism and discrimination are removed from over in the US.

RELATED: Louisiana Turns into Newest State To Make Juneteenth A Vacation


Flood refugees lined up and ready for meals at a short lived camp for African Individuals. Forrest Metropolis, Arkansas, February 1937.

Flood refugees lined up and waiting for food at a temporary camp for African Americans. Forrest City, Arkansas, February 1937.

(Picture by © CORBIS/Corbis by way of Getty Photographs)

In actual fact, systemic or institutional racism permeates the very core of our social, political and financial methods. Though there are lots of on the political proper who would deny the existence of systemic racism in the US, this type of racism at the moment exists in all elements of society together with employment, housing, prison justice, healthcare, training.

For instance, communities of shade had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic due to larger charges of pre-existing circumstances. One might simply argue that pre-existing circumstances like coronary heart illness and diabetes are the direct results of lack of wholesome meals sources and enough healthcare assets.

RELATED: Biden Indicators Invoice Making Juneteenth A Nationwide Vacation, 156 Years After Its Starting

Systemic racism additionally permeates police departments throughout the US. We want solely take a look at the capturing and killing of Black males, girls and youngsters by cops in recent times together with Eric Garner in New York Metropolis in 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014, Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, Sandra Bland in Hempstead, Texas in 2015, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020, and naturally, the brutal homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020. And the listing continues.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 20: People march through the streets after the verdict was announced for Derek Chauvin on April 20, 2021 in Atlanta, United States. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd May 25, 2020.  After video was released of then-officer Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, protests broke out across the U.S. and around the world. The jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

(Picture by Megan Varner/Getty Photographs)

Systemic racism additionally permeates state legislatures throughout the nation. State legislatures had been emboldened by the 2013 landmark Supreme Court docket resolution in Shelby County vs Holder which struck down a number of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This led the way in which for state legislatures to additional erode the suitable to vote and to additional disenfranchise the Black vote. 

Stricter identification necessities and different voter reforms in Florida, Texas, and Georgia have made it far harder to vote. For instance, in March 2021, Georgia enacted stricter voter identification necessities, restricted the distribution of meals and water, and decreased the variety of official poll packing containers. In a latest press convention, President Joe Biden mentioned that these makes an attempt to restrict voting rights “makes Jim Crow appear to be Jim Eagle.

One has to wonder if there’ll ever be liberty and justice for all in the US. The primary slave ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619. 4 hundred years later, individuals of shade nonetheless expertise racism and inequalities. We might by no means change the way in which some individuals really feel about individuals of shade, however we are able to battle for liberty and justice by supporting voting rights laws just like the For the Individuals Act, also called HR 1. And with the assistance of Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland, who lately mentioned that the Justice Division will dramatically improve its concentrate on voter suppression, there’s hope that someday there’ll truly be liberty and justice for all.


Terri Austin is an legal professional and authorized analyst who has appeared on quite a lot of networks together with ABC Information, CBS Information, Court docket TV, Fox 11, Inside Version, and Regulation and Crime. She beforehand served as an Adjunct Professor at USC, Annenberg College of Journalism. Previous to that, she served in quite a few roles together with Chief Company Coverage Officer for S&P International, Chief Range Officer for AIG, Litigation Affiliate at Richards & O’Neil, and Assistant Counsel on the New York Metropolis Regulation Division. Ms. Austin holds a BA in political science from Grinnell School, a JD from Columbia College College of Regulation, and a MS diploma from the Columbia College of Journalism.


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