Write an essay comparing the following two perspectives on Juneteenth and describe any insight that can be gained from the comparison. Argument 1: an excerpt from """"The True Meaning of Juneteenth"""" by Casey Gerald: """"...This Juneteenth, those are the feelings I’m channeling: grief and gratitude, even amid the silliness of America’s pageantry. My grandmother Clarice was born in Pelham, Texas, a freedmen’s town. She took us grandchildren back for homecoming most years, sometimes even had us pick cotton, reminding us, “You’ve got to know your history.” She also told us of the folks she knew in Pelham as a child, some of whom were born enslaved, a fact that horrified me. Clarice always refused my sympathies. “Child, don’t be believing what folks say about how bad slavery was,” she’d explain. “Everybody had a job, a place to stay and something to eat. Now if somebody came and paid your rent, you wouldn’t be sitting up talking about you wanna leave, would you?” This dumbfounded me, until I realized she was mostly joking. But there was something deeper in her response. I eventually learned more about the violence that met newly emancipated Black Texans. Ku Klux Klansmen, along with local officials and everyday citizens, terrorized freedmen at will and without repercussions. They burned churches and homes, intimidated those who sought employment, and worse. Gen. Joseph Jones Reynolds, a commander of the Department of Texas during Reconstruction, commented in 1868, “The murder of Negroes is so common as to render it impossible to keep an accurate account of them.” The Equal Justice Initiative has tried, reporting that more than 2,000 Black women, men and children were victims of racial terrorist lynchings during Reconstruction, which lasted from 1865 to 1877. Slavery was awful, no doubt, but emancipation brought its own unique cruelties. Formerly enslaved Texans were forced to craft lives from less than scratch; choose new names; attempt to reunite with stolen partners, siblings, children. They faced daily threats of jail or worse because of the new Black codes that severely restricted their freedom — their freedom to work, but also their freedom to be unemployed or even to stand still for too long. The more I learned, the more I understood my grandmother’s perspective. She’d heard the testimonies of those who’d had to navigate both the tragedy of slavery and the terror of emancipation. She couldn’t let me underestimate the enormous price our people had paid to be free. I miss Clarice so much some days, it’s hard to think straight. I regret not asking more questions about our family, about her life in Pelham. As more folks in Clarice’s generation pass away, we are losing the final physical links to those who know our history — who are our history. We can do no better this Juneteenth than to spend time with the elders who are still with us. Get them to talk. Record their stories. These historical and systemic injustices have not been resolved. But as Black Americans, we cannot wait for the day when our country will pay the respect that is due our forebears — or pay us those reparations. Instead of holding our breath, let us find the freshest air we can find and breathe it as deeply as we can, with joy. Let us grieve for our forebears and feel deep gratitude as we think of the enormous price our people paid so we could be free. Let us remember that despite the degradation of slavery, they lived fully human lives, too. They laughed. They loved. They dreamed. They ate sweet treats. Let us pray to them and say, this year and always: Thank you."""" Argument 2: an excerpt from """"Juneteenth Reminds Us to Think About Economic Freedom, Not Just Legal Liberty"""" by Peter Coy: """"...[W]hen emancipation came, the first thing formerly enslaved people wanted was land, which they rightly saw as a prerequisite for real independence. “The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor,” a Baptist minister named Garrison Frazier told the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, and the Union general William Sherman in a meeting in Savannah, Ga., in January 1865. Four days later Sherman famously promised 40 acres of land to each formerly enslaved family (the “and a mule” part came later). But the federal government never followed through on its promise of land — and thus true independence — to formerly enslaved people. Economics entered into the picture, Stanley said: If African Americans grew subsistence crops on their own plots, who would cultivate and harvest all the cotton, tobacco, sugar and rice grown on the vast plantations? After the Civil War, in lieu of land distribution, slavery was replaced by sharecropping, in which planters allowed tenant farmers to keep a portion of the crops they raised. That subjugated the tenants to the owners almost as surely as slavery did. At the same time, industrialization in the North meant that more and more white Americans were working for wages — about two-thirds by 1875, according to Stanley. Many drew the connection between themselves and African Americans. Eugene Debs, who led the Pullman railroad strike of 1894, said, “The paternalism of the Pullman is the same as the interest of a slaveholder in his human chattels. You are striking to avert slavery and degradation.” Today, the phrase “wage slavery” invoked by Debs and others has lost its punch. Many people who work for wages are doing very nicely, thank you. And many farmers and business owners, supposedly more independent, are buffeted by forces beyond their control, from bad weather to nasty customers. What hasn’t changed, 157 years after the Juneteenth proclamation, is that a majority of African Americans continue to lack wealth. The median wealth of Black families in 2019 was just $24,100, versus $142,500 for white families, according to a Federal Reserve survey. Something needs to change, but what? The nature of the economy has changed, and few people still think that the solution to inequality is to give people plots of land to farm. We are enmeshed economically with one another in ways that Jefferson could not have imagined. Instead of land grants, the new protections for workers are unionization, government regulation and profit-sharing, Stanley said. One can quibble over her formula, but the motivation behind it is unquestionable. Freedom — which must include economic freedom — is just as important now as it was on the original Juneteenth."" Comparison of the two perspectives on Juneteenth and discussion of insights to be gained from the comparison:
In comparing the two perspectives on Juneteenth from Casey Gerald's "The True Meaning of Juneteenth" and Peter Coy's "Juneteenth Reminds Us to Think About Economic Freedom, Not Just Legal Liberty," we can gain valuable insights into the complexity of the emancipation experience and the ongoing struggle for true freedom and equality for African Americans in the United States.
Casey Gerald's perspective highlights the emotional and personal aspects of Juneteenth, emphasizing the importance of remembering the past and honoring the sacrifices of those who lived through slavery and the tumultuous period following emancipation. Gerald's account is rooted in the stories of his grandmother Clarice, who shares her memories of people who were born enslaved and experienced the harsh realities of both slavery and emancipation. This perspective encourages African Americans to celebrate their freedom, grieve for their ancestors, and express gratitude for the enormous price their forebears paid for their liberation. It also underscores the significance of preserving family histories and the stories of the elders who experienced these events firsthand.
On the other hand, Peter Coy's perspective focuses on the economic aspects of emancipation and the importance of addressing the lasting disparities between African Americans and white Americans. Coy argues that real independence for formerly enslaved people required land ownership, which was largely denied, leading to sharecropping and continued subjugation. He connects the historical struggles of African Americans for economic freedom with the contemporary wealth gap between Black and white families. Coy's perspective suggests that modern solutions to inequality should focus on unionization, government regulation, and profit-sharing as a means to achieve economic freedom.
By comparing these two perspectives, we gain insight into the multidimensional nature of the African American emancipation experience. While Gerald's account emphasizes the emotional and personal aspects of freedom, Coy's perspective highlights the ongoing struggle for economic independence and true equality. Both perspectives remind us that Juneteenth is not only a celebration of legal freedom but also a call to remember the sacrifices of the past and to continue working towards a more equitable and just society.
The comparison also emphasizes the importance of understanding the interconnected nature of personal and economic freedom. As Gerald's account shows, the personal stories and experiences of African Americans during the emancipation period reveal the immense challenges they faced in achieving true freedom. Meanwhile, Coy's perspective demonstrates that the pursuit of economic independence is an essential component of that freedom. By examining these two perspectives together, we gain a more comprehensive understanding of the significance of Juneteenth and the ongoing quest for true freedom and equality for African Americans.