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


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

As we have fun Juneteenth in lots of states throughout the nation, we have to decide learn how to make these phrases apply to everybody in the US, no matter race, colour or nationwide origin. On June 19, 1865, the Union Military lastly introduced Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation liberating 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 folks had been topic to a collection of Jim Crow laws. These legal guidelines had been designed to maintain Black folks from succeeding socially, politically and economically. These legal guidelines had been bolstered by the Supreme Courtroom’s 1896 choice in Plessy vs. Ferguson the place the courtroom dominated that separate however equal segregation of Black and white folks was constitutional.

RELATED: Senate Passes Bill to Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

Classic illustration incorporates a group of African-Individuals dancing in celebration for Juneteenth, often known as Freedom Day,.

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

Getty Photos

Underneath Jim Crow legal guidelines, African Individuals had been disenfranchised by racial gerrymandering which diluted the Black vote throughout districts making it tough for Black folks 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 of dangerous and due to this fact these communities of colour remained underfunded and underdeveloped.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Courtroom declared that segregation in public colleges was unconstitutional within the 1954 landmark choice in Brown vs Board of Education. Ten years later, many 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 primarily remained a two-tiered system of liberty and justice. Immediately, what’s left is a legal 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 folks 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 Massacre in May 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 Becomes Latest State To Make Juneteenth A Holiday

Flood refugees lined up and ready for meals at a brief 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 through Getty Photos)

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 present exists in all facets of society together with employment, housing, legal justice, healthcare, schooling.

For instance, communities of colour had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic due to increased charges of pre-existing situations. One may simply argue that pre-existing situations like heart disease and diabetes are the direct results of lack of wholesome meals sources and enough healthcare sources.

RELATED: Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth A National Holiday, 156 Years After Its Beginning

Systemic racism additionally permeates police departments throughout the US. We’d like solely have a look at the taking pictures and killing of Black males, girls and kids 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 checklist 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 Photos)

Systemic racism additionally permeates state legislatures throughout the nation. State legislatures had been emboldened by the 2013 landmark Supreme Courtroom choice 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 fitting 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 tougher 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 bins. In a latest press convention, President Joe Biden mentioned that these makes an attempt to restrict voting rights “makes Jim Crow look like 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, folks of colour nonetheless expertise racism and inequalities. We might by no means change the way in which some folks really feel about folks of colour, however we are able to struggle for liberty and justice by supporting voting rights laws just like the For the People Act, often known as HR 1. And with the assistance of Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland, who just lately mentioned that the Justice Division will dramatically enhance its give attention to voter suppression, there may be hope that sooner or later there’ll truly be liberty and justice for all.


Terri Austin is an lawyer and authorized analyst who has appeared on quite a lot of networks together with ABC Information, CBS Information, Courtroom TV, Fox 11, Inside Version, and Legislation 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 World, Chief Range Officer for AIG, Litigation Affiliate at Richards & O’Neil, and Assistant Counsel on the New York Metropolis Legislation Division. Ms. Austin holds a BA in political science from Grinnell School, a JD from Columbia College College of Legislation, and a MS diploma from the Columbia College of Journalism.