By: Kish Daniels, Greater Twin Cities United Way
As Juneteenth approaches on June 19, now is an opportunity to pause, recognize and reflect on this moment in our national history.
The holiday was first celebrated in Texas on June 19, 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, when enslaved people were declared free under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a time of great hope and transformation. For context, the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. It took another 89 years for African Americans to experience freedom.
In our country, the “4th of July” symbolizes freedom and is widely celebrated, yet that freedom wasn’t available to everyone. Former slave and brilliant orator Frederick Douglass wrote and gave a speech from 1852 titled “What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July?” It serves as a poignant reminder of our history, reinforcing that Juneteenth is a more inclusive celebration.
Today, Juneteenth celebrates African American achievement and serves as a reminder of the countless struggles African Americans experienced in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, due to racism and oppression, which continue to exist today. Many events, especially over the last year, point to how far America still needs to go in achieving equity and justice for all.
At Greater Twin Cities United Way, we are committed to dismantling racism and oppression by uniting changemakers, advocating for social good and developing solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone. And when we work together, we can create a community where all people thrive, regardless of income, race or place.