Juneteenth also serves as a warning. Millions of Americans want to go backwards.

There was something that happened recently that may not seem like it’s relevant to Juneteenth but it is. You’d be making a mistake to ignore it.

The far-right group Turning Point held its convention in Detroit. The optics of such a group meeting in a majority-Black city is interesting in itself but this meeting took on a special sort of racism. At one point, on the stage, several people unfurled a flag that read “White Boy Summer” and threw out hats with the same name.

That phrase started out as an innocuous one but has since been appropriated by white supremacists. Writes the Anti-Defamation League: "While ‘White Boy Summer’ was not initially intended to be hateful, white supremacists have adopted the slogan and leveraged it for their own purposes.”

Turning Point was once pseudo-mainstream. Now, the hoods are off. And not just with Turning Point. But with many corners of our country.

What does this have to do with Juneteenth? Let me explain.

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. It crosses every societal marker. It’s a sports story. A cultural one. A political one. Mostly, it’s a human one. It celebrates the end of one of the great grotesqueries in the history of this nation.

This shouldn’t just be a national holiday. This should be a yearly moment when people of goodwill look inward and pledge to themselves, and others, we’ll never go back to anything like that again.

The holiday also represents something else. You’d be making a mistake ignoring this, too.

Juneteenth also serves as a warning. Or at least it should. There are people who want to take us back in time. Maybe not to when Black Americans were slaves (or maybe they do) but back. Way back. That’s what people like Charlie Kirk and millions of others are about.

The country is on a trajectory that I'm not sure many Americans understand. It's been a slow burn that is turning heated and is rapidly getting worse. It seemed, after the murder of George Floyd, that the country was making a dramatic turn toward something different. That never happened.

"(Former President Donald) Trump showed Republicans that many of the fears and grievances he’d weaponized, and which had borrowed heavily from their longtime playbook, could still be winning issues at a time when conventional wisdom, even among party strategists," wrote journalist Zak Cheney-Rice in New York Magazine, "held that the GOP would have to tone down its racism if it wanted to win elections. Trump didn’t just capture the presidency in 2016. He was also penalized less than expected for his racist rhetoric in the 2020 race. The small gains he made with several nonwhite constituencies the second time around also hinted that the GOP could sustain its usual racist fear-mongering and still make inroads with nonwhite voters. The stage was set for an escalation."

Cheney-Rice wrote that in 2021. Things are much worse now.

What's most fascinating about that Kirk moment is the brazenness of it. It happened in Detroit. This is a majority-Black city. Trump spoke at this conference. Trump also spoke at a church that was billed as a Black church though the majority of the people in the audience were white.

It was a truly remarkable moment and it happened just days before Juneteenth. It caused such consternation that even a military veterans group chimed in.

"Someone who has such blatant contempt for People of Color cannot command our Armed Forces," wrote VoteVets on X, formerly Twitter. "Anyone who endorses and attends an event that is celebrating white supremacist slogans is a danger. Add into it that these are the people he will empower to run government, as part of Project 2025 (Google it!), and it is a flashing red warning sign."

If you want to understand how the people at Turning Point (and millions of others) think of the country and what's to come, look no further than what Trump's former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said.

"Are you prepared to fight? Are you prepared to give it all?" he said. "Are you prepared to leave it all on the battlefield? I can't hear you and they can't hear you!"

People cheered and shouted "USA! USA! USA!"

Then Bannon concluded: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's very simple: Victory or Death!"

Victory or death? Really? That's where we are? Well, yeah, apparently that's where we are.

The holiday is a vital one and will be for generations. Maybe forever. It's that important and, frankly, that beautiful a remembrance.

It needs to also be thought of as a warning so we don't go backward.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Juneteenth isn't just history. It's about America's future.