Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the anniversary date of June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger and Union troops reached Galveston, Texas with news of the Civil War’s end. Proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas and later throughout 47 states of the United States and the District of Columbia, this took place 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and represented the end of slavery in the United States. This day is not only celebrating emancipation but acknowledging the gap in time that it took for that freedom to be fully recognized. We now annually celebrate June 19, with increasing official recognition, to the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.
It was only a year ago that I and many others became aware of what Juneteenth really meant to folks who have endured over 400+ years of injustice and oppression. Personally, as a woman of color who still battles with her own dual ethnic identity (Ethiopian-American), learning more about Juneteenth humbles my understanding of strength, resilience, and determination. As a form of respect and remembrance, we want to take this time to set intentions with you all in observance of this day:
Today I remind myself that every day is an opportunity to learn more and more about the racial inequalities found in a society whose backbone and historic infrastructure were built by the countless lives enslaved by white supremacy. I remind myself that freedom and racial equality have always been a hard-fought battle for Black Americans that continues to this day. For example, the Thirteenth Amendment in the United States Constitution was adopted in 1865. This Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. Still to this day, the US has the most prisoners of any country in the world, and those prisoners are disproportionately Black, creating a modern form of slavery. As we reflect on last year's Black Lives Matter protests and #BuyBlack movement, society is now facing a new age of accountability and honesty that can lead toward a more just and equitable world, but it starts with acknowledging the events of the past.
I will not only take this moment, but a lifetime of moments to give grace and honor to the Black lives lost at the hands of white supremacy. I also honor leaders like Octavia Butler, John Lewis, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Alicia Garza, and so many others who have paved the way for Black folks to share their stories, food, music, traditions, and perspective with the world. (I highly suggest everyone read “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration” by National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Isabel Wilkerson to learn just how much Black lives have filled this world with color. Their contributions to the collective have far more impact than most realize.)
I find multiple lessons in resistance and activism through rest. While we reflect and honor the Black community on this day, we also celebrate and raise our hands to all that has been given and allowed for us to progress toward a better world. A world that is filled with collaborative action to end systemic racism. A world where fighting for what is right is not only found in legislation, but in healing our collective mental health.
I will take this time to not only readily learn and reflect on what contributes to my present, but also preserve my energy and rest to ensure the vision of change I want to see can be made more accessible every day.
From Team Crowdcast to you, Happy Juneteenth and Black Music Appreciation Month.