Juneteenth is an official holiday for MEDA staff to celebrate the strength and successes of the Black community, while acknowledging our nation’s past injustices. [The holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18, as June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.]. We commend Congress for doing the right thing this week and overwhelmingly passing legislation to make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday, with President Biden signing the bill into law just an hour ago.
History books often cite that slavery in this country ended in 1863, with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, yet the history of Juneteenth tells a different historical narrative. That’s because it wasn’t until two years later — due to those in power not acknowledging the federal law — that the last enslaved Black people were freed in Texas on June 19, 1865, giving rise to what is recognized as “Juneteenth” and marking the official end of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth is a day when the Black community gathers to celebrate their ancestors’ contributions to the building of the country, while recognizing their oppression and struggle for justice. Last year, with the murder of George Floyd and national protests for racial justice, the day gained greater momentum nationally and became a call-to-action for all Americans.
Today the nation continues to fight racial injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought hundreds of thousands of people of all colors into the streets to loudly proclaim that the widespread disenfranchisement of and violence against the Black community will no longer be tolerated.
MEDA continues to strive to grow and deepen partnerships with Black leaders and organizations, leveraging our long-term relationships to actively listen, approaching this work with humility, suspending preconceived notions, and being flexible and open to learning new things.
Internally, MEDA established a staff-led Black Lives Matter working group to look at how our organization can create a safe space for discussion. The group’s mission statement is “The BLM working group serves to promote equity for the Black community by strengthening MEDA’s operations and culture, partnering with Black-led organizations and influencing policy.”
We acknowledge that we come from different places and backgrounds, meet people where they are at and honor each others’ experiences.
On this Juneteenth, let’s celebrate Black Americans and all who have contributed to the continued movement toward racial justice. We recommit ourselves and our organization to the ongoing fight for social justice and eliminating racism. And we look with hope to a brighter future for all in our nation.
Events in the Bay Area
If you are looking for ways to locally commemorate Juneteenth and celebrate the strength and successes of the Black community, you can find ideas at the following: