Today we commemorate Juneteenth, the date that marks the end of slavery in the United States – two and a half full years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
“I look at Juneteenth as a day of reflection and education. Slavery had been abolished in the United States effective on January 1, 1863. A full two and a half years before the Union soldiers had enough force to free the slaves still being held in captivity in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865.
It’s a day that reminds me that even though the laws of this country may state that everyone is free, there are always those that will seek to hold on to power and dominance over people they once oppressed. It’s a day that reminds me to remember and to stand vigilant against those that would continue to do us harm. It’s a day that reminds me to teach others that the price of equality is high and that steady persistence is needed if it is to be won. It’s a day that reminds me to honor those that fought for freedom and equality for others, never giving up, until freedom was given to all.
Finally, it’s a day that reminds me be accountable, because if everyone isn’t free, then no one is.”
“Never, ever take freedom for granted. This is the thought that occupies my mind, as we approach Juneteenth. As I navigate through the current national assessment of the pervasive effects of 400 years of the forced labor of Black lives in America, I simply ask myself: How could the practice of slavery happen here? Were there not powerful people in the world who were aware that human beings were stolen from their country, transported across the ocean, and sold upon arrival to the Americas? Were there not concerted efforts early on to obliterate this practice? Tough questions, indeed. But, these questions are, sadly, applicable to other tragic, inhumane practices subsequent to the slave trade. I’m approaching Juneteenth with a keen awareness of the past, accompanied by a profound responsibility to take action against the current occurrence of inhumane ideologies and practices.”
“To me, Juneteenth is America’s true Independence Day. On Juneteenth, I’m reminded of the 400 years of racism, violence and oppression my community has faced, but I’m also inspired and proud of our tenacity, perseverance, and determination. I’m reminded of the rich culture and technological advancements African Americans have added to America’s society despite the evils of racism, and I’m driven to continue pushing for greater freedom and equity for black Americans in future generations.”
“For me Juneteenth means: It’s final recognition of the Emancipation Proclamation by the state of Texas. Although no longer viewed as property, it was the grassroots efforts of equality. History and present day bears witness by way of Jim Crow and the existence of racial inequalities that those efforts are yet to be realized. My hopes and prayers are that one day soon we will finally arrive and exceed at what our ancestors had envisioned as freedom and equality in its truest form.”
“To me Juneteenth marks the beginning of a long journey to freedom. It symbolizes the perseverance that my ancestors exhibited and hope of something greater. It is a day not widely recognized or celebrated although it should be. It symbolizes triumph over a dark period in our nations history and the meaning of resilience and survival. It a focused reminder of what my ancestors built and another way to honor them and the many contributions that they made to America although they did not receive any accolades. I honor where we have came from and remember that there is still work to be done to make the world a better place and we will overcome. This is not just for my generation but the generations to come.”
“Being a mixed-race family, it is important to pause and recognize and bring awareness to our history. This day and conversation brings a big opportunity to the hospitality industry to really take hold of the conversation, train people and get them thinking about their own unconscious bias. From our perspective, to be a better ally, you can use your voice for good and to put people of color’s voices on a pedestal. Use this day as a chance to do research and get the conversation started in your circle.”