Statement on Juneteenth from the HomeRise DEI Taskforce
Juneteenth serves as a symbolic milestone on our journey toward a perfect union; celebrations at churches, parks, parades, and barbecues, are filled with sounds of Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Miles Davis, and many more as the communities come together to celebrate the enduring promise of our country; that all of us are created equal.
On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill creating a new federal holiday, “Juneteenth National Independence Day,” to celebrate the freeing of America’s last slaves—the first federal holiday to be created in nearly 40 years, noting that it was the first national holiday established since Martin Luther King’s birthday in 1983.
Our celebrations are stained with anguish this year as the Black communities across the United States bear yet another racial attack. A mass shooting in Buffalo methodically shot and killed ten people and injured three more—almost all Black—in one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history. Their God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were cruelly snatched away. Our hearts go to their families, friends, and the Buffalo community.
We don’t have to look far to see that racism, bigotry, hate, and intolerance are still all too alive in our world, just as the slaves of Galveston knew that Emancipation was only the first step toward true freedom—with an abundance of work remaining undone.
Reflecting on history, Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are, instead it’s a celebration of progress. Despite the most painful parts of our history, things do get better.
Today is a day to find joy in the face of ambiguity. Let’s count our blessings, hold the ones we love closer, and take a moment to connect with our Ancestors who lifted their voices in sounds and words, “Free at Last, Hallelujah I’m Free.” This day belongs to Black Communities across America.
– Germaine Daneille Bond, DEI Taskforce Chair
To learn more about the history behind Juneteenth and why it resonates today, please watch this short video.