An Apology by Richard Bleil
Yesterday, I incorrectly stated that tax-day has been delayed this year because our normal tax-day, April 15, fell on Good Friday. And off I went on a tirade of the separation of church and state. The post is still on my site today, with a note at the beginning apologizing for the mistake. While I stand by the opinions stated on the importance of the separation of church and state, and the laments of those pushing to blur this line, I feel terrible for not realizing that the true reason for the delay was the celebration of Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.
On April 16, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed into law the formal Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in the United States, a step in the right direction but not nearly enough as the former slaves still lacked voting rights (as did women at the time). They were free, but not quite citizens, either. It was not until the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, during the Civil Rights protests, outlawing discriminatory voting laws by the states that they were finally free to vote everywhere in the United States. Sadly, today, there are still efforts to suppress their votes, albeit today mostly by the Republican Party, as opposed to through Jim Crow laws led by the Democrats prior to this act.
To be honest, I had no idea that there were any holidays specific to Washington D.C. and not celebrated nationally. We’ve gotten used to a host of celebrations of everything under the sun (National Hot Dog Day is July 20, 2022, a random celebration I just picked out of my head and didn’t know was a thing until I looked it up right now). These celebrations are not significant and are often a form of advertising gimmick. It’s no wonder they’re not celebrated seriously and nationally. The Emancipation Celebration is very different indeed.
Why this is celebrated in Washington D.C. alone, and not nationally, I don’t understand. In my mind, it’s more significant than President’s Day. What’s worse, not only is it not celebrated nationally, but I’ve never seen anything about it. I’ve never read about it, seen sales for it, advertising for it, nothing.
Yesterday, I read an article about how the “great” state of Florida has banned over forty math books because they, according to the story, elevate “critical race theory”. I’d love to see actual examples of this as mathematics is about as far as critical race theory as I can imagine. Between the grades of kindergarten (a German concept) and fifth grade, it’s over seventy percent. Critical race theory is nothing more than an investigation into how racism has been implemented into our society and government, and the deleterious effects thereof. It’s about as far from the topic of mathematics as I can imagine. Although I can see how authors could work it into math books, I seriously doubt that there are so man examples of books as this ban suggests.
This story, however, shows that civil rights have a far way to go in our society. Parents who oppose critical race theory often do so because they don’t like the way it makes their children feel about themselves as they actually start to think about these social issues. Well, God forbid children learn to think in school, or learn empathy. Even if there are sample problems in these math books based on slavery or equal rights, it’s very unlikely that it goes into any great detail of actual critical race theory. And yet, the drive to continue to push propaganda history where slavery is a footnote to the point of denial of its role in the civil war continues.
Emancipation Day should be celebrated nationally. It should be a day of remembrance, and reflection on who we were, who we are today, and who we want to be. If we are blind to our past, the future path become clouded, and easily lost. Are we truly the land of the free, or the land of the privileged? Do we want to fight for human rights, or to support the wealthy and powerful?
If we are unhappy with the direction of our nation, it’s up to us to change its course. The extreme Christian right is making significant progress as they are very vocal. Even today (as of the writing of this), a Miami-Dade school board member introduced a bill (of sorts since its above her right to do so) creating a national prayer day in school. It’s time to become vocal once again on civil rights.
Again, let me apologize to anybody offended that I did not realize that yesterday was the Emancipation celebration. I take full responsibility for this oversight.