“What it meant to be a newly freed Black man and a father in 1865 mirrors what it means to be a Black man and a father today: providing for and protecting your family, nurturing your children’s sense of self-worth and identity, defying stereotypes, resisting oppression, keeping the faith, and reckoning with the understanding, as Smithsonian Institution secretary Lonnie Bunch observed, that emancipation is ‘ process that is still unfolding—not simply a day or a moment of jubilee.’” — Johnathon Briggs
In the 50 years since Father’s Day became an official national holiday, this is the second time it has fallen on June 19th — Juneteenth, which was designated a federal holiday just last year. While the timing may be a coincidence, the intertwining of the two holidays is an opportunity to reflect on the unique nature of Black fatherhood – both today, and on the day when Union Army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3 informing the people of Texas that all enslaved people were free.
Among the many horrors of the “peculiar institution,” as white southerners euphemistically referred to slavery, perhaps the most agonizing was the wrenching of children from their parents.