We shouldn’t allow the titanic revolution of the Civil War and Reconstruction to obscure a crucial fact: In the antebellum North, an interracial movement fought for, lost, and then kept fighting for black voting rights and equal citizenship rights.
Dale Kretz is an assistant professor of African American history at Texas Tech University. He is the author of the forthcoming book Administering Freedom: The State of Emancipation after the Freedmen’s Bureau (UNC Press).
Today, as we celebrate Juneteenth, we should remember not only the struggle against chattel slavery but the struggle for radical freedom during Reconstruction — snuffed out by the reactionary forces of property and white supremacy.
The “voice-giving” that is so central to the mission of liberal philanthropy underscores something essential about the custodial politics at the heart of the American political system. We need to do far more than “give voice to the voiceless” to win justice.