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Usher calls for change in a powerful essay on Juneteenth because "Black Lives Matter"

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Usher has marked Juneteenth by penning a compelling essay reflecting on the ongoing injustices in our country, juxtaposed with the desperate need for change toward black Americans.

In a Washington Post op-ed, the multi-Grammy winning artist lets those who aren’t aware know: “Juneteenth is our authentic day of self-determination.”

“It is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people,” Usher writes. “And it should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans.”

“While President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued two and a half years prior, and the Civil War had ended in April of that year, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that almost all of our ancestors were free. We should honor their lives and celebrate that day of freedom forever,” the essay declares.

Usher also recalls his childhood, when he was taught one version of U.S. history that frequently excluded black history.  Now, he says, “this country must change, quickly.”

“Recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday would be a small gesture compared with the greater social needs of black people in America. But it can remind us of our journey toward freedom and the work America still has to do,” he writes.

Going forward, Usher hopes people support black culture, black entrepreneurship, and black businesses every day, as opposed to treating the day like a regular calendar holiday and taking off from work.

“A national Juneteenth observance can affirm that Black Lives Matter!” he says.

Many state and federal government officials are proposing that Congress make Juneteenth a federal holiday.  Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared it a holiday in his state.

By Rachel George
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