On January 1st, 1863, Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United States, dedicated to the proposition that a nation could not exist and reach its rightful place in the sun, half slave and half free, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared in essence that as a matter of law all peoples in these United States of America were forever free. Yet over these last one hundred years there have been many times when these emancipated peoples and their freeborn descendants must have felt, and oftentimes still feel, that they are like to the legendary Sisyphus who was condemned to the eternal task of rolling a heavy stone uphill, only to find that it rolled down on him when he reached the summit. This is not to say that there has not been progress made toward the realization of freedom in fact as well as in law. But the progress has been slow and arduous, highlighted by the various Supreme Court decisions, each of which in its turn solidified legally the Proclamation and the amendments to the Constitution of the United States which guarantee the rights of all its citizens.
Wilson G. Stapleton, One Century after the Emancipation Proclamation, 12 Clev.-Marshall L. Rev. 566 (1963)