For Release: June 19, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Expanding Government Poses a Danger to Individual Rights, Liberties Celebrated on Emancipation Holiday
Project 21 members have called attention to the Juneteenth since 1999, urging black Americans to use Juneteenth to embrace their inherent talents and strengthen their ties with family and community.
Now, when the Obama Administration and Congress are increasing government intervention into the lives of all Americans, Project 21 members suggest that people reflect upon how this expansion of power can reduce the threaten individual freedom.
“The liberties we enjoy today came at a tremendous cost and after a lot of suffering,” said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. “Today historically marks the day of the opening of the door to opportunity for blacks to seek ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ We should take advantage of this liberty to strive to improve our lives and build upon the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom.”
“It’s important to remember that Juneteenth is rooted in our achieving our freedom. It is the growth of an activist government intent on regulating most – if not all – aspects of our lives that is now threatening that freedom,” said Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II. “There’s a lot at risk should politics be allowed to take precedence over the protection of individual rights. Environmental regulations, for instance, already substantially affect private property rights and the ability for many to conduct legitimate business. Just think of what might happen to our independence if we are forced to rely on a partisan government for health care, to determine if we can buy a car or how we can worship without offending perceived sensibilities? This is something we need to consider as we mark Juneteenth this year.”
Project 21 member Ak’bar Shabazz added: “As our nation advances rapidly away from embracing personal responsibility towards government protection and oversight, we should keep in mind that these freed slaves wanted only the opportunity to be free and control their own destinies. Their attitudes towards freedom contrasts greatly from today, as many people look for more government control over their lives.”
Juneteenth commemorates the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 arrival of Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas. The soldiers carried the news that the Civil War was over and that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery two-and-a-half years earlier.
The annual commemoration became known as Juneteenth and quickly became a stabilizing as well as motivating presence in the lives of black Americans in Texas, who faced many uncertainties associated with newly-acquired freedom. The observance quickly spread from Texas to be recognized across the United States.
Juneteenth is celebrated in many ways, but education and self-improvement have been consistent themes at commemorative community gatherings and picnics in recent years. In 1980, Juneteenth was made an official holiday in Texas. According to the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, 25 states currently recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization supported by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21’s website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
By Deneen Borelli
Fellow, Project 21,The National Center for Public Policy
With the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama seems to be playing identity politics by making her heritage more important than her experience. So far, most of the news coverage has focused on her ethnic background and that has trumped reports about her experience.
Sotomayor’s nomination should be an opportunity to highlight the contrast between the beliefs of liberals and conservatives.
Unfortunately, this is distracting the public from the most important consideration — whether or not she is the best person for the job.
Conservative Republicans are feeling challenged by the nomination of Sotomayor, fearing a political backlash from the Hispanic vote, an important and growing demographic group, if they aggressively dispute her nomination. Moreover, it seems that she has the filibuster proof majority.
Given the political risk and poor likelihood of having any impact, some believe it would be a waste of political capital to oppose her nomination. While there is some validity to these concerns, we need to recognize that the left will take advantage of any opportunity to politicize opposing views regardless of their merit.
In today’s politically charged environment even a Miss America beauty pageant becomes a battleground for political ideas. For instance Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA 2009, became a target of liberal attacks because she openly expressed her opposition to gay marriage.
Fear of controversy and political retribution should not dictate the decision of our elected representatives. These are the risks that come with the political territory.
With this in mind, conservative Republicans should approach Sotomayor’s nomination like any other nominee –- from a position of principle. Race, age or sex should not interfere with their responsibility to their office and party.
Consequently, during the nomination process, they should question Sotomayor about her experience, judicial philosophy and past rulings. Importantly, conservative Republicans should not shy away from asking her to explain her positions on the Second Amendment, abortion and judicial activism.
Senators should take into consideration the Ricci case, in which civil service test scores of New Haven, CT firefighters were discarded because the scores did not follow quota requirements. This racial preference case will be coming up in the Supreme Court and by all speculation, Sotomayor could find herself being repudiated by her prospective colleagues.
In my opinion, the bigger risk is the loss of the Republican conservative brand identity that has served them well in the past. Sotomayor’s nomination should be an opportunity to highlight the contrast between the beliefs of liberals and conservatives. If the public can’t distinguish between the beliefs of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and the Senate Republicans at the end of Sotomayor’s nomination process, then conservative Republicans have lost significantly more than a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.