Tomorrow, America celebrates Juneteenth, a commemoration of the moment the last enslaved people in the United States learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865. More than two years after President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, Black people in Galveston, Texas, were told their freedom had finally been secured.
June 19 – also known as Juneteenth – serves as a day to celebrate freedom in the Black community.
This year’s celebration takes place during a moment of national crisis. There is a collective sense of frustration and devastation as we confront the entrenchment of racism and oppression in our systems of government, education, housing, voting, labor, health care and justice that endures more than a century after the last remaining enslaved Black Americans were freed.
Our country is mourning the losses of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Yassin Mohamed, Ahmaud Arbery and many other Black lives taken by police or vigilantes. Their murders put a harsh, necessary spotlight on how deeply rooted white supremacy is in our policing and prosecutorial institutions. We must reconceptualize these systems born from slavery and built on the narrative of Black criminality.
In this moment of national reckoning, millions of Americans have joined a movement led by Black activists that refuses the white supremacist design and implementation of our policing and criminal justice systems. Moreover, these demonstrations have paved the way for communities to reimagine policing and implement many of the reforms called for by anti-racist activists and protesters.
It is fitting that on this Juneteenth, we have committed to eliminating the vestiges of slavery that continue to create glaring disparities that continue to inflict pain and grave injustices against the Black community.
As people across the nation look for ways to participate in this movement for justice, we must also remember and honor those who came before us in the march for justice. We invite you to join us tomorrow for a Juneteenth vigil at 3 p.m. CDT at the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama, to honor the Black people who were killed and left homeless by the Black Wall Street massacre, estimated to be 300 and 10,000 respectively.
Another way to participate is to join our social media storm on Juneteenth and during President Trump’s speech in Tulsa the following day. Please plan to follow along and share our message on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for your commitment to fighting hate and establishing equality and justice for all.
The march continues.
Photo by Richard Levine / Alamy