Today, June 19th, 2021, we celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as a nation (49 states already do), having been passed into law as a National Holiday by Congress and the President. This is the day that, in 1865, Union soldiers reached the last enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, with the news that slavery had been abolished and that they were now free.
The abolition of slavery in America is a major cause for celebration. The day the last slaves were liberated certainly rises to the level of deserving of a national holiday. But it must be remembered that the principles of the American Founding made possible the end of slavery. If not for the Fourth of July, we’d have no Juneteenth. Professor Jason D. Hill, author of We Have Overcome, aptly calls the abolition of slavery America’s Second Founding.
By all means, celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day. But put it on a par with Constitution Day, which celebrates the document that Frederick Douglass called “a glorious liberty document.” Like The U.S. Constitution, Juneteenth owes its existence to the Declaration of Independence and the philosophy behind it.
It’s a damn shame that it took almost a Century for the promises of the Declaration of Independence to reach all Americans of African descent. But it did, finally erasing America’s most glaring birth defect.
On June 19th, 2021 - the first Juneteenth - The History Channel will air Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's documentory "Fight the Power: Movements That Changed America" at 8:00pm
Based on an LA Times review, this film could be a welcome relief from the modern reactionary "Anti-racism" movement which is marked by revenge racism, egalitarianism, socialism, the return of racial discrimination in law (Jim Crow laws), "justified" violence and looting, collectivized "justice," a war on inalienable equal individual rights, and historical revisionism as part of a general war on the American Founding.
The movie is about how "protest is part of the American DNA." Encouragingly, Jabbar's hero is Martin Luther King Jr. Hence,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Abdul-Jabbar quotes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the documentary. “I cannot call myself a champion of civil rights unless I champion everyone’s civil rights.”
Jabbar observes that if "Any marginalized group . . . is allowed to be brutalized and ostracized," then "at one time or another, we’ll all end up in that box, . . . so we have to be willing to stand up for the rights of all people, especially marginalized people."
Jabbar's understanding of the fundamentals sounds a lot like Ayn Rand's observations that "if you violate the rights of one, you violated the rights of all" and "The smallest minority is the individual. If you violate individual rights, you can't claim to be a defender of minorities."
Sounds good. But there are danger signs. Jabbar first aligned with Malcolm X, who "talked about not going and letting our demonstrators being beaten," meaning to physically fight back. After listening to King's message of non-violence to show that "the real power" is that non-violent resistance “really embarrasses and totally takes the face away from oppressors when they’re shown to be the bullies that they are,” Jabbar aligned with King against Malcolm X. But Jabbar also finds room to admire Malcom X because "militancy also as its place" -- whatever that means.
Nonetheless, Jabbar is firmly in the camp of MLK. Which means, he advocates for equal individual rights for all. The historical protest movements highlighted in the review seem to confirm this view.
“Fight the Power” flows fluidly through American history as women protested for the right to vote, the Black community protested for equal treatment under the law and the LGBTQ+ community protested for freedom of expression.
Those were movements primarily focussed on equal political rights. How Jabbar relates those protest movements to the current protests, marked as they are with collectivistic group warfare and obliteration of individual rights, will be the real test of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's loyalty to his espoused hero, Martin Luther king Jr. The trailer is inconclusive.
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