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juneteenthOn "Juneteenth," the oldest and

most-popular observance of the end of slavery in the United

States, members of the Project 21 black leadership network

call upon their fellow black Americans to use the civil

rights-themed holiday as a tool to assess how they can take

full advantage of the freedoms and opportunities their

predecessors lacked.


                        They also call upon all Americans to consider how their

liberties must be secured against an ever-expanding

government policies that can limit them.


                        Juneteenth, now an official holiday or observance in at

least 40 states, is Friday, June 19.


                        "Because of their attitudes, thoughts and behaviors -- in

addition to corresponding political loyalties -- blacks

today willingly volunteer themselves to an emotional,

intellectual and spiritual form of slavery. Though

physically free, this current bondage has seen blacks

forfeit almost every aspect of their lives to government

control," said Project 21 member Derryck Green, a doctoral

candidate living in the Los Angeles area. "By faithfully

supporting big-government policies that diminish, control

and deliver sub-standard opportunities for blacks as well as

increase the black underclass, destroy families and

encourage dependency, blacks are ceding their freedom to the

same sort of oppressive control that slaves escaped 150

years ago."


                        Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of

Union troops in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Those

soldiers informed residents there that the Civil War was

over and that President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation

Proclamation had already abolished slavery two-and-a-half

years earlier.


                        In the years that followed, Galveston's former slave

population celebrated their newfound freedom on the

anniversary of this day. The event became known as

Juneteenth. The commemoration became a stabilizing and

motivating presence for black Texans who experienced new

uncertainties associated with their release from bondage and

their integration into American society.


                        The observance of Juneteenth, and the event's emphasis on

self-improvement and advancement, soon spread from Texas to

be recognized in communities across the United States. While

Juneteenth is often celebrated as a festive event with

picnics and parades, there is still an emphasis on

self-improvement and education that is considered an

integral part of the overall observance.


                        "As Americans, we relish any opportunity to celebrate

freedom -- and the festivities surrounding Juneteenth are no

exception," said Project 21 member Stacy Washington, a radio

talk show host in St. Louis. "As we gather in fellowship,

let's extend our focus to include fresh ideas and viewpoints

such as school choice and a smaller, less intrusive

government. As a minority group, blacks have made fantastic

achievements. Yet those gains are slipping away as more and

more children are born out of wedlock and present black

fathers are a rare commodity. This Juneteenth, let's resolve

to reverse that trend."


                        With public attention currently focused on the size and

scope of government and its intrusion into daily life and

peoples' privacy -- be it government surveillance tactics,

expanded police power or regulatory mandates that often

disrupt business and personal affairs -- Project 21 members

are suggesting black Americans pay special attention to how

freedom and opportunity may be at risk because of government

overreach. They should also consider what they can do -- by

themselves or by working with others -- to bring about

reform that will increase and protect freedom.


                        "After 150 years of freedom from racial oppression,

including 50 years of massive government intervention and

entitlements, this anniversary of Juneteenth might best be

spent in collective discussions among black Americans about

what things continue to retard full participation in the

American way of life," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks

, a former executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and

Los Angeles resident. "The Great Society programs launched by white liberals

produced millions of government checks and amounted to the most ambitious

redistribution of wealth in the nation's history. But what if this and other liberal

efforts such as minimum wage laws and affirmative action actually hurt black

Americans' aspirations? After all these efforts, there is persistent black

joblessness and poverty, a yawning black-white learning gap and shocking

black-on-black homicide levels in cities such as Baltimore and Chicago. This June

19th, given the cultural and political crisis that haunts black communities

nationwide, perhaps Juneteenth discussions should be about the extent of harm caused

by government programs and handouts."


                        "Blacks must realize our basic freedoms have never been more

under attack in the modern era than they seem to be now,"

said Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a Navy veteran from

suburban Washington, D.C. "Blacks suffered the brunt of the

Great Recession and were left behind by a jobless recovery,

yet it is the progressives who oversaw this debacle who

claim to have our best interests at heart. Black

conservatives must be like those Union soldiers of 150 years

ago in bringing word that blacks no longer need to

unquestionably embrace progressive policies. They need to

teach that, through conservative tenets of self-reliance and

educational choice, we can achieve and maintain our



                        "In the spirit of Juneteenth, I rededicate myself to the one

freedom I've defended my entire life: the freedom to be safe

from private thugs and overreaching government," said

Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, a community policing activist

living in New Orleans. "I rededicate myself to trying to

preserve my small strand of the legacy which sustained

American blacks that now seems all but unraveled in too many

communities. The lesson Juneteenth teaches me is that

freedoms are ours to safeguard or lose. I choose to guard my

freedoms -- starting with safety!"


                        In 2014 and 2015, Project 21 members have thus far been

interviewed or cited by the media over 2,500 times --

including on TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News

Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM

satellite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as

WBZ-Boston and KDKA-Pittsburgh -- on issues that include

civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race

preferences, education and corporate social responsibility.

Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme

Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and

defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer

members come from all walks of life and are not salaried

political professionals.


                        Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over

two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public

Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).


                        Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and

greatly appreciated.

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