The Magnolia Literacy Project
Pam Johnson "Juneteenth: We Are Commanded to Love One Another"
In commemoration of the federal holiday, Juneteenth, Pam Johnson delivers a compelling appeal for Mississippi and the nation, "To pay attention. To tell the truth".
Johnson is a publicist, political strategist, and media-and issues-management consultant. She has served the Magnolia State as Executive Director of the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women and the Mississippi Association for Justice. Her history of advocacy includes the role of Assistant Secretary of State for Policy and Publications. Johnson was also the first Communications Coordinator with the Office of the State Auditor.
She is the author of Justice for Ella (iUniverse, 2014), a true story of Mississippi’s civil rights era, featuring two brave women who beat the harsh system of discrimination and segregation during the 1960s in Noxubee County. The late columnist, Bill Minor, likened the work to Mississippi’s true version of To Kill a Mockingbird. (Source: Mississippi Free Press)
"Juneteenth: We Are Commanded to Love One Another"
I write this with some trepidation. I am White, after all, and none of my ancestors were enslaved. No. Rather, a good number of them were slaveholders. Most of them, in fact. And that heritage gives me the responsibility to do better.
So what does Juneteenth mean to me as a White person, a descendant of the Confederacy?
It means that it’s on me to do what I can to make this state [Mississippi] and nation kinder and a deliverer of “justice for all.” It’s on me to show respect and understanding and do what I can to help. When my Black friends are angry, or struggling, or fighting to overcome the systemic barriers that have been imposed on them, it's on me to take a stand in the direction of equality and equity. To pay attention. To tell the truth.
Is it a day of celebration? Of course it is. But more than that, to me, it is a day of determination to make a difference. To step in when I need to. To sit down when I’m told to. To live as an agent of inclusion and determination.
Can I wipe away 400 years of history by myself? Of course not. But, as we say in the Methodist Church, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” So yes. I can do my part.
And so can you. We are, after all, commanded to love one another.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
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