DeWayne Wickham: Real black history too often gathers dust





Now that Black History Month is over, I have something to say about black history: Let's get it right.

For too many African-Americans, black history has become a twisted mix of urban legend and pop culture. And for more than a few whites, the truth of the treatment their racial ancestors meted out to blacks is buried beneath a mountain of denied history.

What am I talking about? To begin with, there's Juneteenth. For years it has been hawked by black advocates as a "commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States." It was on June 19, 1865, that blacks on Galveston Island, Texas, were told of the Emancipation Proclamation, which actually freed few slaves.

Abraham Lincoln's wartime proclamation, which took effect Jan. 1, 1863, freed slaves in parts of the South controlled by the Confederacy where the order could not be enforced, and left in bondage slaves in places under Union army control.

By the time blacks on Galveston Island were told of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War was over, and that presidential act was widely believed to have no effect in states that had returned to the Union. So in January 1865, Congress passed a constitutional amendment that outlawed slavery.

Slavery in the USA officially ended Dec. 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified. But out of either ignorance — or indifference — many blacks persist in their efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday....


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