I hope you will take the time to read the essays my Black colleagues have written about the significance of Juneteenth to them but also to our nation as a whole. I truly appreciate the effort that have put into producing this series. It’s unfortunate that more Americans don’t know the story behind this holiday; a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of 4 million enslaved human beings in the United States of America.
It’s unfortunate that more Americans don’t know the story behind this holiday; a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of 4 million enslaved human beings in the United States of America.
Bryan Stevenson the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative argues that “we need a new era of truth and justice that starts with confronting our history of racial injustice”. Observing Juneteenth helps us do that. Van Newkirk, II wrote in The Atlantic that resonated with me, “As a national holiday, Juneteenth, immersed as it is in both the canon of old history and the ongoing struggle for civil rights, would be the only one that celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed”.
When Community Solutions made Juneteenth a holiday this year (we will seek to make it a permanent holiday next year), I said my only regret was that I hadn’t acted sooner, that I and CCS had delayed too long in marking this important holiday. So, no more delays, read and learn more about this holiday, commit to truly understanding our shared history and work against racism and for racial justice across our country.
— John Corlett, President and Executive Director
Slavery in America meant that slaves, primarily Africans and their descendants, worked six days a week from sunup to sundown.
Slavery in America meant that slaves, primarily Africans and their descendants, worked six days a week from sunup to sundown. There was no time clock and no sick time. Decent food was scarce and often animals ate better than slaves. Basic freedoms, such as bodily autonomy, were not even afforded as slaves were not free to marry or have families on their own terms, and the families they did have were broken off and sold at will. Like their ancestors, they knew no other life. Then came Juneteenth–June 19, 1865– and the proclamation that would have an enormous impact on slaves—and on America. While many believe the end of slavery came when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect 2.5 years earlier on January 1, 1863, many slave owners, especially those in western states, continued to illegally hold their slaves captive for an additional two years. Owners took advantage of the fact that many slaves were unaware of the proclamation and what it meant. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger along with Union soldiers finally arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. Thus, Juneteenth commemorates the true end of slavery in the United States — as no one is free until we are all free. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.
The Center for Community Solutions recognizes through research and policy analysis the enormous effects of continuous racial inequality.
Beyond Juneteenth, years of research and study are helping us understand the damage done by keeping Africans enslaved for centuries and subsequently freeing them into a situation where basic civil rights were denied. The Center for Community Solutions recognizes through research and policy analysis the enormous effects of continuous racial inequality. History allows us to humbly walk in the shoes of those who had nothing, one difficult and rough step at a time.