Today I’m filled with hope and resolve as we celebrate Juneteenth, officially recognized as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden last year. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of the enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, who were the last to learn of the prohibition of chattel slavery more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Today we celebrate that step towards liberation and re-invigorate our efforts to continue breaking down barriers that cause inequity.
Proactively working to remove barriers to equity and liberation is at the core of what Juneteenth represents while also noticing the realities of systemic racism and injustices plaguing our country and disproportionately affecting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Throughout history, we have witnessed the suppression of people’s liberties through convict leasing, legalized segregation, and now mass incarceration. Today, while
we recognize the significance of Juneteenth, I want to invite you to stand with all the people who are negatively impacted by the criminal legal system and impacted by systemic racism.
This moment invites us to look inward, hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and reach outward to engage in a collective effort to support transformative change. Let us join together to eradicate racism, dismantle systemic barriers for those negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, and promote liberty and justice for all.
Aisha Cornelius Edwards