Men in Civil War uniforms take part in a 1900 re-enact the Union’s 1865 entry into Galveston.

Today, many Americans are celebrating Juneteenth – to mark June 19, 1865, when roughly 2,000 Union troops marched into Galveston, Texas, to announce that 250,000 slaves in the state were now free. While Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered two months earlier, many Texas slaveholders refused to release their slaves until that day.

On strictly historical grounds, this is a triumphal moment for the cause of fundamental human rights. If this is truly what Juneteenth celebrations are all about, then why does the day solicit so much cultural controversy?

The problem is that Juneteenth has been commandeered by cultural leftists in an effort to cast America as a continually – and fundamentally – racist nation that has made precious little – if any – progress.
Rather than celebrate our nation’s long march to ever greater civil rights protections, the left uses occasions like Juneteenth to suggest that America was founded by evil bigots who were hell bent on perpetuating racial injustices. Hence, we see Juneteenth events promoting critical race theory and condemning white supremacy with no acknowledgement of the great strides America has achieved thanks to its founding documents and the struggle to live up to this remarkable creed.

A transgender performer is featured at a Pride/Juneteenth event in Homer on June 17.

But there’s something else happening, which is equally disturbing. This day is held hostage by the LGBTQ movement, which intentionally conflates sexual identity politics with the historic civil rights movement. Here in Alaska and around the nation, Juneteenth events pair these movements together – equating the fight against slavery with demands to let gender-confused men use women’s toilets and compete against female athletes, while pushing for radical sex-ed curriculum, bodily mutilation of gender-confused kids and pornographic books in community libraries.

As conservatives we should be able to recall and commemorate the moment when enslaved Texans discovered they were officially freed from the yoke of slavery. We cannot, however, take part in bastardized programs that distort this day in order to cast aspersions on our nation, pollute our morals and conflate the hard-fought freedoms of our black brothers and sisters with the radical identity politics of the hard left.

Here’s a great introduction to the true meaning of June 19, 1865.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Why is Juneteenth controversial?

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.