Lane College Community,
Constitution Day or Citizenship Day (as it is also known) observes September 17, 1787, the day that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia. In celebration of Constitution Day, I share the comments (unedited) that I made during the 2023 SAACA Juneteenth Celebration and Flag Raising. Please observe my comments regarding the three-fifths compromise used in the U.S. Constitution that counted three citizens for every five slaves to determine how many congresspersons each state would be allocated.
“To God, the men and women who served our country including the 200,000 colored soldiers, SAACA, celebrants and celebrators gathered today. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17 NKJV).
Today, we celebrate liberty and freedom for one and all secured by our maker. We celebrate the end of slavery, the national disgrace, an unholy institution, moral failure, and a sin against God and humanity everywhere.
We celebrate the liberation of the three-fifths people. We celebrate the historic victory of a people held in chattel slavery from 1619 to 1865. For 245 years, the three-fifths people labored without pay, the three-fifths people sustained a democracy in which they did not participate, the three-fifths people made life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for others while only a prayer for themselves.
We celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. We celebrate “the order, issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for slaves” in Texas two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. We celebrate that the three-fifths people were made whole by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. We celebrate President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law making Juneteenth a National Holiday in 2021.
In this hard-earned celebration, we the descendants of the former three-fifths people do not hoard this liberty and these freedoms for ourselves alone. We affirm the message of the Statue of Liberty:
“With silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”
We the people celebrate and share this freedom with native and immigrant, the wanted and unwanted unborn and born, those with abilities concealed and revealed, gender lovers, and people of every hue – red, yellow, black, brown, and white, all precious in God’s sight.
Let us pray…