Ring out the church bells Friday for Juneteenth.
Let them be bells of joy because on June 19, 1865, a U.S. Army officer stood on the balcony of a stately Galveston, Texas, residence and read General Order No. 3: "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."
Gen. Gordon Granger was referring to the Emancipation Proclamation, by which Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves of the Confederate States. Texas being the most distant of them, Granger and his army of occupation didn't arrive there until more than two months after the Civil War effectively ended.
But ring as well a mournful bell. General Order No. 3 also informed Texas' ex-slaves "that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere." Though destitute — even their clothes belonged to their former masters — Uncle Sam wouldn't extend a helping hand.
A step forward, followed by a step back. That has been the story of race relations in America from that day until President Donald Trump's aborted choice of Juneteenth for an election rally in Tulsa, Okla., the site of a 1921 mass murder of blacks.
So ring a bell of praise for Harriet Tubman and Sarah Grimke. Tubman escaped from slavery, found refuge in Philadelphia and returned to Maryland to free upward of 80 enslaved people. Born into a slaveholding South Carolina family, Grimke secretly taught enslaved children to read until her father caught her, then she also moved to Philadelphia and became a prominent abolitionist.
But ring a bell of shame for Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson. More sympathetic to former slaveholders than to former slaves, he sabotaged the plans of congressional Republicans for a reconstructed South with equal rights for blacks and whites.
Ring a bell of praise for congressman Thaddeus Stevens. It was his idea to confiscate the estates of the largest Southern property owners and distribute the land in 40-acre allotments to former slaves. He blocked the South's attempt to bar ex-slaves from voting. "This is not a white man's government!" he thundered.
But ring a bell of shame for the bureaucrats of the Freedmen's Bureau, the federal agency that transferred the confiscated land. They gave the bulk of it to wealthy Southerners.
Ring that bell again for the unsavory deal the two parties cooked up after the disputed presidential election of 1876. The Republican candidate got the White House and the Democrats got white supremacy restored in the South, their base of support. Army units enforcing Reconstruction were withdrawn, and blacks were resubjected by Jim Crow state governments.
Ring a bell of sorrow for the thousands of black people lynched and a bell of shame for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. He is holding up federal anti-lynching legislation because he claims it could send perpetrators of minor injuries, a cut or a bruise, to prison for 10 years.
Ring a bell of joy for W.E.B. Du Bois. A co-founder of the NAACP, in 1894 he became the first black person to earn a Harvard Ph.D.
Then ring a bell of shame for the U.S. Supreme Court's 1896 decision allowing "separate but equal" public accommodations. By legitimizing segregation, the justices completed the destruction of southern blacks' civil rights.
Ring a bell of joy that school segregation was outlawed by the 1954 Supreme Court decision that separate could never be equal. Ring a bell of thanks for Dorothy Brown's parents who fought for her right to an integrated classroom.
Ring it again for Rosa Parks. Her refusal to sit in the back of a Montgomery bus triggered the civil rights movement and made Martin Luther King Jr. its prophet.
Ring a bell of sorrow for the black schoolgirls — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair — killed by the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church. Ring it again for King and all the other martyrs of the fight for civil rights.
Ring a bell of joy for President Lyndon Johnson's 1964 civil rights bill and for the congressional Republicans whose support got it enacted.
Ring a bell of shame for President Richard Nixon's Southern strategy that welcomed to the Republican Party segregationists who fled the Democratic Party when blacks got to vote in the South.
Ring a bell of joy for the election of President Barack Obama and the eight years of hope it gave that the death of racism was at hand.
Ring it again for the massive, multiracial protests that followed the killing of George Floyd whose last words — "I can't breathe!" — provided the rallying call for the Black Lives Matter crusade.
And finally, ring a bell of hope that renewed activism will finally make racism abhorrent to all Americans, be they Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives.
Ron Grossman is a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune.