Today, we celebrate another Juneteenth. A day of celebration of freedom of the emancipation of the last enslaved Black American more than 150 years ago. The celebrations that arose on that June day in Texas have resonated throughout the years as a celebration for all Africans and African Americans. Therefore, as we dress with pride to show our spirit, sometimes in African garments and take the time to note our achievements, we acknowledge the sacrifice, horror, and trauma that our brothers and sisters endured in the hands of a brutal system. A brutality that also reflects the humanity, courage, love, and beauty of the people that survived.
For the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Juneteenth is not just another summer festival, but a day of heritage, celebration and reflection for all black people around the world. Because the history, struggle and triumph of African Americans is the history, struggle, and triumph of black people all over the world. Because while Juneteenth was about the emancipation of black people wrongly enslaved, it also demonstrates the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times. Therefore, today is a day that we as a people (African/Black diaspora) can become more invested in learning about the place we have come to call home by unpacking and engaging in its history to learn more about our interconnectedness as people of African descent.
But amidst the revelry of the occasion, we must acknowledge that while the slave chattel may be long dead, the ideology is still alive and well in various manifestations. It is alive in our hospitals where black women are more likely to die during childbirth. It is alive on our streets where deadly police encounters are more likely for black men. It is alive in our places of work where opportunities for black upward social mobility remain minimal. Therefore, Juneteenth is a reminder to be resilient amidst a host of forces determined to reverse the progress that America and the world has made.
Despite these challenges however, Juneteenth is a holiday of hope. A time to ease the pain, the anger and the sadness around continued racial injustice in the United States. An opportunity for us all to work to do better for ourselves, our friends and colleagues, our communities, and our children. Although we may come from different backgrounds and races, we can all use Juneteenth as a time to consider the struggles of our brothers and sisters and to recognize that we still struggle with the sins of our past. Because while the dream for true freedom may still appear deferred for many blacks, the opportunity for ending slavery in all its forms is firmly within our grip. And together, we can end it. Happy Juneteenth.