On Juneteenth, take time to reflect and consider working to enact change

Change can start with learning more about Juneteenth and being kinder, or by implementing positive actions that result in equality.

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Juneteenth Flag Raising

Tau kennebrew, Tendaji Andrew-Hutchinson, Asha Andrew-Hutchinson help unfurl the flag during the Juneteenth Flag Raising at Daley Plaza on June 13.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

June 19 marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, a celebration of the abolishment of slavery. It was on this day in 1865 that Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, proclaiming the good news to enslaved African Americans that they were now free.

Although Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation had officially ended slavery in the Confederacy, enforcement depended on the advancement of Union troops. Consequently, many enslaved Americans carried on in servitude — even after the Civil War ended — not yet knowing they were free.

While Juneteenth has been celebrated in Black communities for over 150 years, it was not officially recognized as a federal holiday until 2021. I am pleased to see many places — including Western Governors University, where I work — recognize Juneteenth as a holiday for employees and placing emphasis throughout the year on advancing equity.

As a Black man who has devoted his career to higher education and ensuring underserved community members have the tools they need to succeed in life, Juneteenth is very important to me. It reminds me that more needs to be done to erase the inequalities, resulting from decades of discrimination and unfair treatment.

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Many barriers still hold people of color back, often leading to socioeconomic inequalities in every phase of life. This is evident not only in former slave states but also here in Chicago. I firmly believe, through my current work and prior positions with City Colleges of Chicago, that access to affordable higher education is key to breaking down these barriers and fighting inequality.

Raised in Georgia by a single mother of three, I experienced those societal barriers. We grew up poor, but my mom instilled in us good values and the importance of acquiring an education, which provides not only a pathway to a career but also a voice for change. Those experiences stayed with me when I moved to Chicago 15 years ago, inspiring me to do well academically and earn multiple advanced degrees.

Everyone who is marginalized should have that same opportunity.

As we observe Juneteenth and contemplate all that remains to be done, take time to reflect and consider working to enact change. That change can start with learning more about Juneteenth and being kinder, or by implementing positive actions that result in equality.

Dr. Terrance Hopson, regional director at Western Governors University, Orland Park

A threat to our government

“The hour is late. God is watching us.”

This is a quote from a retired judge and highly regarded conservative legal mind at the third hearing of the Jan. 6th committee. Judge J. Michael Luttig was warning us that the plot to overthrow our government, allegedly orchestrated by Donald Trump in 2020, is alive and with us today.

Republican primary voters are sending hundreds of Big Lie promoters, at all levels of government, to the general elections in November. To this day, John Eastman, the architect of Trump’s alleged coup, is spreading his lies  to state and local legislators.

Regardless of whether Trump is held accountable, the threat remains in the likes of autocratic governors Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis and too many more potentially seeking the power of the presidency.

Our democracy will not survive if these people steal our elections. Watch the Jan. 6 hearings. The hour is late.

Richard Keslinke, Algonquin

Falling for gamesmanship

State Senate GOP Leader Dan McConchie, referring to the widespread giveaways that somehow happen to be taking place during this election year, states that: “Nobody will be fooled by their gamesmanship.”

Nobody will fall for this gamesmanship? I wish I lived in the fantasy world McConchie apparently inhabits.  In the world with the blue sky that we live in, broad swaths of the electorate routinely fall for the lies, stories, chicanery and general carnival barking that constitutes modern politics. Why else would politicians spend so much money on the big scale sleight of hand we call running for office?

Mark M. Quinn, Naperville

Taxpayer freebies

Just read the Sun-Times article on how politicians are ramping up “giveaways” during election season. Let’s be clear about something: Politicians aren’t digging into their wallet to “give” us anything.

Most of them are using money from the federal government or some other tax-funded source. So, at the end of the day, we taxpayers are paying for this “giveaway.”

Tony LaMantia, Logan Square 

Cubs vs. Sox

Now that the Chicago Cubs have lost 10 games in a row, and Tony La Russa is having trouble winning with the White Sox, how about swapping David Ross for Tony La Russa for a few weeks and see how things turn out?

Though I’m a Cubs fan, I would be very impressed if Tony could win with the Cubs. Likewise, I think Ross is a great manager — let’s see if he can prove it with a White Sox team with great potential.

Stephen Behnke, Roselle

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