Yohuru Williams, distinguished university chair and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative, was a guest on WCCO Radio's Paul and Jordana show discussing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, reparations and more.
Williams noted that different emancipation days are celebrated around the country because enforcement of President Abraham's Emancipation Proclamation was dependent on the Union Army. Texas was the last holdout and so this June 19 date and celebration of the end of slavery has come to symbolize what took place across the country, which was the Union Army making Lincoln's emancipation the force of law in those areas.
Then, the U.S. needed the 13th Amendment to complete the work of abolishing slavery.
From the show: The issue that was diving the states in 1861 was slavery, so [the Civil War] was a war fought to make the United States one nation.
"We often don't think of it this way, but what we celebrate with Juneteenth is not only the emancipation of slaves, but the re-soldering of the union: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," Williams said.