Greetings to All:
Today, June 19th is Juneteenth Day. It is a celebration of the emancipation of enslaved men and women – not slaves; our ancesters were not born as slaves, they were born as human-being. They were men and women brought to this country in chains, sold as chattel, separated from family and loved ones, forced to labor for free, denied basic decencies afforded others, beaten and lynched at the hence of discontent, dehumanized and demoralized, robbed of language, culture and history, and humiliated for the entertainment of others.
And so when, on June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger read federal orders proclaiming all “slaves” in Texas were free – imagine the jubilation and joy in that moment. Imagine the uncertainty and fear for what tomorrow might bring. Imagine the hope for what tomorrow might bring.
Today, especially today in these awakened times, we must think about what was in the hearts and minds of our ancestors. Are we not living in a time of jubilation, joy, uncertainty, fear and hope? Are Black, Brown and Red men and women not suffering in many of the ways in which our ancestors suffered? Are we not being murdered in ways that feel like lynchings? Are we not relegated to certain living quarters? Are we not the victims of failing schools? Are Black and Brown boys not the first to be disciplined and criminalized? Are certain jobs still relegated to folks of color? Are we denied access to food and health care? Do we continue to be dehumanized and demoralized? Does it appear that, despite declarations to the contrary, Black lives do not matter? Are we still waiting for our 40 acres and a mule? Mostly, I ask, are we still awaiting a proclamation of our freedom?
In light of the experiences shared on our recent call, many of us are still waiting to be free from the chains of slavery. And while we live in the dream of freedom, we also live in the reality of suspicion, contempt and nullification. We continue to be “judged by the color of our skin” and not the “content of our character” – and that is saddening and sickening.
So, on this Juneteenth Day, let’s celebrate our hope for the day when we will all be free. And let’s recommit ourselves to making that day a reality.
Yours in love and hope,
Here are some links to Juneteenth activities (thanks Sarah Poole):
Several American companies declared Juneteenth a company holiday this year and took the opportunity to make policy statements or better yet revise them:
Malden’s Juneteenth celebration: Friday, June 19 at 9:00 a.m. on Zoom. Led by Malden Community Organizing for Racial Equity (MaldenCORE), this will be an opportunity to learn about Juneteenth and honor the history, legacy, and culture of our African American and Black community members. To pre register: https://bit.ly/MaldenJuneteenth2020. MaldenCORE’s mission includes confronting racism, promoting multi-ethnic and multicultural representation in leadership and staffing of Malden institutions, working to establish a common language and common understanding of racism and its effects, and promoting justice, equity, and inclusion.
Boston celebrations: http://www.juneteenth.com/mass.htm
National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/event/juneteenth-celebration-resilience
North Shore Juneteenth Association: https://north-shore-juneteenth-assoc.constantcontactsites.com/