paper trail

Writers reflect on what Juneteenth means today; Colin Kaepernick is joining the board of directors at Medium

Annette Gordon-Reed

At The Nation, Jamaal Bowman writes that it’s time to make Juneteenth a national holiday. The National Archives has located the original Juneteenth order, a handwritten military letter freeing slaves in Texas. At the New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed remembers childhood celebrations of the holiday, and Jelani Cobb observes that “Juneteenth exists as a counterpoint to the Fourth of July; the latter heralds the arrival of American ideals, the former stresses just how hard it has been to live up to them.” At the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes about “Why Juneteenth Matters,” and authors and historians including Martha S. Jones, Toni Tipton-Martin, and Emma Goldberg reflect on what the occasion means in 2020.

The National Book Critics Circle is postponing their 2020 awards in the wake of an internal dispute over how to publicly support the protests against racism and police brutality. After critic Carlin Romano objected to parts of the statement in an email that was later posted on Twitter, fifteen of the twenty-four NBCC board members resigned. In a letter released yesterday, the NBCC detailed how it plans to diversify and restructure the organization.

Colin Kaepernick is joining the board of directors for the blogging platform Medium. Kaepernick and his publishing company will also provide Medium with stories and interviews about racial justice, highlighting work by writers of color. In a statement, Kaepernick outlined his mission: “We must take control of narratives, the kind of control that will liberate us from seeing ourselves through the gaze of others. The kind of control that can change the way we see the world and how the world sees us.”

At Literary Hub, Brandon Taylor writes about contending with anxiety and panic attacks during the pandemic: “No one could make me feel better. I stayed up all night reading articles. Watching videos. Trying to diagnose myself. I read the stories about people who had tried to get help and who had been sent home and who had died.”

The Washington Post details the Justice Department’s attempts to block the publication of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened. Though those efforts have so far been unsuccessful, they could open the door for later legal actions leading to criminal charges or financial penalties.