‘We Must Act Out Our Freedom’

I will look for you in the stories of new kings. Juneteenth isn’t mentioned in the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois or Carter Woodson, the founder of The Journal of Negro History. I haven’t yet come across a description of the first Juneteenth celebrations equivalent to Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s report of the ceremonies for the Emancipation Proclamation as it was read aloud on Port Royal Island, South Carolina, on New Year’s Day, 1863. Black troops, white commanders, white clergymen, white women schoolteachers, black women schoolteachers, and the formerly enslaved turned resisters gathered at the sober campground to ratify in their hearts the next covenant of the Republic.
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Humans have spent decades trying to teach other animals our languages—sometimes for convenience or amusement, sometimes out of scientific curiosity—but we’ve made little effort to learn theirs. Today, as a virus from another species upends human society, the usefulness of communicating with animals on their own terms is suddenly more imaginable.
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