In the United States, we often celebrate our country’s past, yet when it comes to discussing our history with slavery and racism, we shy away. Although it’s been over 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on present-day U.S. soil, we have yet to truly confront this legacy – something that’s imperative to understanding how and why systemic racism has come to take its current form in our country.
Tomorrow, the coUrbanize team is observing Juneteenth, the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery.
On June 19, 1865, the emancipation finally reached those in the deepest and most remote parts of the former Confederacy. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed more than two years earlier, it wasn’t until Union Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to share the news with the remaining enslaved people of their emancipation that all became free. Although freedom didn’t come easily – many owners of enslaved people tried to resist or hide the news – the celebrations began. As newly freed Texans began moving, Juneteenth celebrations spread.
Justice was delayed for these formerly enslaved people, just as justice, equity, and equality are delayed for Black Americans today. This very history makes it even more important that we commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth as we march toward justice today.
It’s time for America to truly grapple with its legacy of slavery and the systemic racism that plagues our society. As a company, we’re observing the holiday and asking all of our team members to observe in the way that’s most meaningful to them: through activism, self-reflection, learning, or donating. We have a lot of work to do, but today we’re taking a step toward being better.
– the coUrbanize Team