Recognizing Juneteenth: How Can We Contribute to Progress?

By Jessica Kendall & Jawana Echols-Anderson
Co-Chairs of the Black/African/African American Employee Resource Group (ERG)

Sunday, June 19, 2022, commemorates Juneteenth, the day that the last enslaved Black people learned slavery had been outlawed. This was over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and hundreds of years after chattel slavery began in the United States.

Far from ancient history, slavery was a foundational part of this country’s beginning that still taints so much of everyday present life. Continuing to see violence be visited on our communities over and over after all these years triggers a trauma that is centuries deep.

For those who are unfamiliar, it’s important to recognize the horrors Black Americans have been forced to fight through simply to exist as more than property in this country known as a place of liberty and justice for all. But don’t stop there. We encourage you to use this day as an opportunity to learn more about the history of Juneteenth and consider how you can contribute to continued progress.

For those with the experience of that struggle running through our veins, let the celebration of Juneteenth be a reminder of how much we have accomplished, and a reminder of what is possible, in solidarity with other emancipation stories from the global African diaspora. For the sake of better days, we must hold tight to that which can never be taken away. Community has always been one of those things, evident in the unparalleled impact we have on each other. The Black community is intersectional and vastly diverse. We remain unified in our many struggles despite often being targeted because of our Blackness and divested of our many other important identities. The fact is that no one can erase any part of who we are. Embrace it all. Embrace it and lean into community with love. Love is an antidote for so much that pains us, but love is an action word. Love is showing up and it is standing up.

So may you find comfort in community this Juneteenth whether in person or virtually. In these challenging times never forget that hope is the reason we have come this far, and it will carry us into the future. Like those who loved us enough to fight for us to be here today, let our hope be a love letter to future generations.

Happy Juneteenth!

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