The Emancipation Proclamation is 150 years old this month. On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a bold move in the midst of the nation’s civil war and freed the slaves in the “rebellious territories”. The decree brought humanity officially to those made to feel less than human as dictated by our Constitution where slaves didn’t count as a full person. It made African slaves brought here or those born into slavery a free people. It brought African slaves now freed and freemen into the armed forces of the Union Army and Navy. It allowed former slaves to be a part of the liberation of their own people.
The Emancipation Proclamation created a rolling wave of freedom that we should never forget.
We ought to reflect who is the slave today in our society without full emancipation? The poor? The immigrant?
The Torah teaches us to pay attention to” the widow, the orphan and the stranger in your midst.” The Torah tells us to remember that we were slaves once long ago.
We are to remember the way were counted as less than human so as to hold up the humanity of all people.
As we enter numerous celebrations of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this month, let us continue to be inspired by his message of hope and that of Scripture that teaches we are all human, regardless of the color of our skin and that justice demands that our attention ought to be focused on the not just the promise of freedom but actual freedom and equality in our country.