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Recognizing Juneteenth (Plus, Resources To Learn More & Take Action)

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Today is June 19th, but for many Americans it is a holiday better known as Juneteenth. Even if you hadn’t heard of Juneteenth until this year, if you’ve been anywhere near social media in the recent days (or hours), there’s very little doubt that you’ve seen SOMETHING about this historically significant day. But just in case you’re still not sure what Juneteenth commemorates, here’s a short summary (via Juneteenth.com):

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

Just to reiterate, enslaved people in Texas weren’t freed until two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But, as we’ve been learning, there is so much more to understand about this historic day. So we’ve rounded up five articles that explore and explain the true significance of Juneteenth.

  • This week, The Root published this video that gives a great overview of Juneteenth and it’s importance.
  • Back in 2018, Journalist P.R. Lockhart interviewed professor of African-American studies, Karlos K. Hill, about why celebrating Juneteenth is more important than ever, in this article from Vox.This week, The Root published this video that gives a great overview of Juneteenth and it’s importance.
  • We loved this article (published by Shondaland.com) about writer and director Channing Godfrey Peoples, and her thoughts on why Juneteenth needs to be a national holiday. Read this, and then stream her new film Miss Juneteenth, which was released today.
  • Journalist Dianca London Potts interviewed 93-year-old activist Ms. Opal Lee about her dreams of a national Juneteenth holiday in this 2019 article, also for Shondaland.com.
  • Lastly, to better understand how Juneteenth is resonating in new ways due to current events, and why its observance is especially important this year, read this article by Journalist Derrick Bryson Taylor, written for the New York Times.

In recognition of Juneteenth, the EHD team is spending today out of the office (aka our living rooms) and instead heading to some of the local marches and protests in the LA area. If you’re looking for different ways to get involved this Juneteenth here are a few suggestions:

  • Check out Essence.com’s toolkit for mobilizing around the #SIXNINETEEN Movement, with actions starting today and going through the weekend.
  • Sign up for this virtual summit hosted today at 1 pm EST by Digital Undivided: “Undivided We Rise is a virtual summit that brings thought leaders and influential voices together to bring awareness to digitalundivided’s vision: A world where all Black & Latinx women own their work.”
  • Keep up to date on all the protests and events happening in the LA County area by following this Instagram account.
  • And, if you haven’t yet seen it, TV show Blackish has an episode dedicated to Juneteenth. And it’s streaming on Hulu right now.

Finally, here’s a list of just a few things protesting – whether that be in the streets, signing petitions, sending emails, or making phone calls – has accomplished so far (while also recognizing that many organizations had been working on several of the items long before the events of the last few weeks):

  • George Floyd’s murderer, police officer Derek Chauvin, was arrested and had his charges elevated from third degree to second degree. They’ve also arrested and charged the three other officers who were present, but did not intervene.
  • Portland, Denver, and Minneapolis public school districts terminated their contracts with city police.
  • Breonna’s Law has been passed in Louisville, banning “No-Knock” warrants (however there’s still work to do, as no officers have yet been held accountable for her murder – click here for a list of action items to keep the momentum on her case a priority!).
  • In New York the State Legislature has voted to repeal Law 50-A, a law that has kept police disciplinary records unavailable to the public for 44 years.
  • Officers in Dallas are now required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force.
  • In Minneapolis, a veto-proof majority of nine council members have pledged to dismantle the Minneapolis police.
  • The officer who murdered Rayshard Brooks has been arrested and charged with felony murder.
  • Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, has announced that the city plans to reduce the LAPD budget and reallocate the funds (visit The People’s Budget LA for more information).
  • Statues and monuments with racists histories have been removed all around the world.
  • Brands and companies are making serious shifts in their practices (such as companies like Sephora taking the 15% Pledge).

One more thing. If you are wondering if you can purchase the beautiful piece in the opening photo and aptly named Change, you can! Head to Melissa Koby’s Etsy shop.

Opening Illustration Credit: Melissa Koby

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Sara

Thank you for sharing all these informative resources!

VALERIE SCHLOSSER

This was a wonderful post. Thank you.

I recently heard the following advice for white people who are ready to start taking action but don’t know where to start: start with having conversations with your racist family members or racist community members where you have an existing relationship. You’re uniquely situated to make progress with them.

What better way to show solidarity with Juneteenth than to start chipping away at your own racist corner of the world? Along with the celebration side of things, of course.

Rusty

Yes. I had a conversation with someone yesterday about the difference between ‘not racist’ and ‘anti-racist’

Lee

Who died and left you in charge of judging other people’s speech? Short of someone using an obvious racial slur, how do YOU know whether someone else’s views are “racist”?

This isn’t Communist China during the “Cultural Revolution” (and anyone who has read books about it knows how well that turned out for China — hint: horrific). We live in a democracy where people are allowed to think what they want to think and the only person whose speech you get to police is your own. Thinking you know what’s right and how other people should think is just George Orwell’s nightmare come to life.

FFS, the BLM movement isn’t about YOU. And attacking your family members and colleagues who you’ve decided are racist and need to be re-educated just makes this all about YOU patting yourself on the back and being a dang nightmare.

Kara

Hi Lee. I recommend reading the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.

To be very clear, “start having conversations” does not mean “attacking your family members and colleagues.”

Lee

Robin DiAngelo? Lol. A white woman who figured out how to make her career by using black people in a politically correct way. Plenty of other great books written by black people out there that are far better than DiAngelo’s mush.

Lee

Here’s the podcast I suggest you listen to:

https://barpodcast.fireside.fm/17

“White Fragility” Is A Completely Bizarre And Pernicious Book And It’s A Terrible Sign That So Many Americans Love It”

If you’re actually interested in a conversation, rather than preaching and patting yourself on the back for how woke you are, you’ll listen to a different perspective and one that is NOT right wing but sees this book for what it is: cultlike BS.

Lee

If you’d like to read substantive, important books about the state of black people in this country, written by actual scholars (as opposed to cult-like, self-promoting, diversity-workshop fascists like Robin DiAngelo), read:

1. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
2. The Origins of the Urban Crisis

Rusty

No one said anything about “attacking” anyone.
For most people, within normal bell curve range, a “conversation” is a discussion and respectful sharing of information and opinions.
Key word = respectful.
Chill.

Lee

Come now, you don’t want to talk WITH your “racist friends and family members” who you think need reeducation. You want to talk AT them. At least be honest about it.

LJ

Hi Lee, just as you noted you don’t want others to make a judgement towards you, I don’t want anyone thinking they know what my intention is behind my private conversations with my family and friends. How I choose to approach them will determine how they choose to see where I am coming from. I actually do really want to talk WITH my family. My dad works in the housing market and my hope is he will agree that Black people in this country do not have the same opportunities my family has had simply because of the color of his skin. My hope is in talking WITH my dad specifically, we can have a respectful conversation where he shares his educated insight in what actions might work in alleviating the many road blocks People of Color encounter just based on their skin tone when trying to buy a home. I’m personally really struggling in understanding where people are coming from when they say they do not see an issue with race in this country on any level. My father (or anyone else I choose to speak with) may say there are only small problems and we can disagree on… Read more »

Amy P.

Great post! Just a clarification note from a Twin Cities resident – the Minneapolis City Council has not formally voted to defund the police. Instead, 9 members have PLEDGED to accomplish this. Since 9 members of the council are standing together, it would be a veto-proof majority that cannot be overturned by the Mayor should it move to a vote. We are still in the early stages of making positive change!

aileen

Thank you for sharing this on your blog, I appreciate you informing yourself and others!

Rusty

I’d never heard of Juneteenth until I read this! Thank you.
I’ve been learning so much from this blog (and sharing that learning with so many people).

In Australia, there’s been a movement foryears, to change Australia Day to a different date. Aboriginal people see it as Invasion Day, since it’s the date Captain Cooke sailed into Botany Bay and started killing the indigenous people, even though he declared it “Terra Annulus” land of no people.
The date proposed for Australia Day is the date the country was federated, as in actually agreed to become a group of states to form the nation, Australia.
Biggest hurdle? Old, white people that like the day in mid-summer for BBQs, etc.
The date of federation is in winter.
Phoot!
Gimme a referendum and I and most of the citizens of this land will vote it to be changed.

Bring on the change! We, the many peoples, the human beings who are actually being human, are ready!!!

isabelle

That’s a wonderful idea. I hope it will be changed!

Someone needs to tell the grumps that they are still allowed to have barbecues and picnics in the summer, even without a racist holiday. Ha!

Ordena Thompson

I love this picture. Can you tell me who created it?

Jessica

At the end of the post is a link to the Etsy shop where you can buy it 🙂

Jane

Another amazing resource, Movement for Black Lives is going to be streaming all day celebrating Juneteenth! Turn it on for a while and enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbhTh6GA-8w

Thank you!

Elaine

I appreciate this post. These past few weeks have involved some solid unlearning, far more than I foolishly thought I needed. It’s heartening to see team EHD following through on informing themselves and their following, long may it continue.

Thank you so much and be assured it will continue xx

Sloane's Mama

I just bought a print from Melissa’s Etsy shop because of you publicizing her talent – thank you! My three-year-old daughter is mixed and I’m ensuring that the art in her room celebrates her wonderful heritage. I can’t wait to hang Melissa’s print above her bed.

Thank you so much for your continued posts about racial equality and what we can all do to move this cause forward.

Melissa’s work is wonderful so that makes us so happy to hear!

Lily Brown

I am so disappointed that one of my favorite blogs get so much into subjects like that. I guess I need to pay more attention to post heading and skip any that suggest anything other than decorating subjects.

We are very sorry that you feel that continuing the conversation of dismantling white supremacy is disappointing. This day, in particular, is incredibly important and to not talk about it would go against how we are actively trying to change. This will always be a design blog, but a design blog that is working to be much better.

Linda P.

Stay mad, Lily. *eye roll*

Dena

Thank you for this post!!

Excellent post. Thank you so much for keeping on with this. It gives me hope.

Jade

This post makes me feel hopeful that change and human rights can happen in the US.

Heather

Thank you for using your platform to spread these important messages!

Tina Schrader

Thank you, EHD team. You are an inspiration to me in this work and a great resource. Here’s to a lifetime of working toward an inclusive, equality-focused society!

Thanks for all of the information. I appreciate your thorough coverage. Great job!

Daniela

Really appreciate that you’re taking the time and space to cover this. It’s why I still visit this site almost daily.

THANK YOU! i know you’re not sure if you believe in God or whatever, but even if you don’t. I really believe you are on your way to Heaven. 🙂 once your eyes are open, if you don’t fight for justice, that is the gravest sin.

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