Flynn Hodkinson Observes Juneteenth

Flynn Hodkinson Observes Juneteenth

Observance of Junteenth – Why Now?

Our firm is made up of American lawyers and so our hearts are with what is happening in the United States. For this reason, we are observing the Juneteenth holiday to recognize what has happened, to reflect on that we are all one nation and the more we understand each other, the more we can heal and develop a more peaceful and happy society.

The history behind Juneteenth wasn’t taught in school as part of our history. In the United States, we must study civics in school and in law school study the US Constitution which includes the 13th Amendment which formally abolished slavery, but I have to admit to my ignorance on the history behind when slaves were freed. It seemed that once President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation all slaves were free and everything was fine. This was not the case. Instead, according to a New York Times article and an informative article in the Independent, Juneteenth is a celebration of an event where 2000 Union Army soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865 to announce that the slaves were free as a result of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, announced nearly three years before on September 1st, 1862 and went into effect on January 1, 1863. Can you imagine? We’ve been grumbling because we’ve been stuck in our homes because of a virus and feel like our freedom has been constricted and these people in Galveston, Texas were enslaved for more than two years after they were required to have been freed.

As I write this, I think of the irony that President Lincoln’s proclamation began the process to emancipate millions of African American slaves in the US, and these days, President Trump issues proclamations as a tool for his restrictionist agenda to close our borders and limit the entry of people into the United States.

Flynn Hodkinson is recognizing Juneteenth this year in light of the George Floyd killing, for Breonna Taylor and for the hundreds, if not thousands of African Americans who have been unjustly killed by police in the United States. For all of the people who are killed by gun violence and perhaps we don’t think much about it because it isn’t in our neighborhood or we think that is someone else. We are all part of each other and the sooner we all stand together, the better. We’ve had enough a long time ago and won’t stand for it anymore.

Many of my immediate and extended family in Chicago work as first responders in the fire and police departments so I know good people work in the police department. I know this is a very complex situation that will not be solved by ignoring it. By observing Juneteenth and saying that black lives matter, we are not saying that those who must face the front line of protecting us don’t matter, which of course they very much do. Instead, we are recognizing that without knowledge and understanding of our shared history and that all the different factions in our society matter, we will never move beyond our ignorance. The more we know and understand each other, the more difficult it is to hate each other.

Janice Flynn, Principal Lawyer of Flynn Hodkinson