Not aware of what Juneteenth is? Please read on!
Slavery was abolished in the United States on January 1, 1863, but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865—two years later–that word of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, and the last enslaved Black people learned that they’d won their freedom.
June 19th has become known as Juneteenth, our Freedom Day. Juneteenth is a holiday to celebrate our hard-won freedom as Black people, and a day to remember our ancestors and our resiliency.
Today we also recognize that while slavery may have ended 155 years ago, Black people in our country are still living in many ways with that oppression, from the salaries we are paid, to the healthcare we receive, to the safety of our drinking water, to how our children are treated in school, to the likelihood of dying in police custody.
This Juneteenth, while we celebrate our freedom, we remember that enslaved Black people were not freed from the goodness of a slaver’s heart. We fought for our freedom. We demanded our rights. We honor our history by carrying on that work and continuing to use our collective voice to demand fair treatment and equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
SEIU Local 49 remains steadfast in our commitment to racial and economic justice, knowing that we cannot have one without the other. We were never silent and will never be silent.
To participate in a local [virtual] celebration, please visit juneteenthor.com.
More on the history and evolution of the holiday – along with some insight as to why you probably didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school – can be found here.