Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the news of emancipation reached the last group of enslaved people in Galveston, TX. Freedom is sweet and must be celebrated. Yet the indignation of the two and a half years between the Emancipation Proclamation, making slavery illegal, and June 19, 1865, is dwarfed by the 155 years and counting during which the full promise of freedom has yet to be realized. The co-existence of tragedy and triumph, of pain and promise, is at the heart of this day. That tension is at the heart of this moment for the US and the world as we observe Juneteenth 2021.
The Senate recently voted to make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday. And Companies and organizations across the US are, newly, honoring Juneteenth as a paid holiday. IFYC is among those organizations - read our commitment and action steps toward racial equity here. Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder, and President of IFYC offered this comment as we remember Juneteenth this year: “Slavery and racism are amongst America’s original sins. Juneteenth marks an important step towards redemption, and so we observe it as a sacred day of remembrance and reflection.”
Please read a piece by one of IFYC’s Racial Equity Fellows entitled: A Day Worth Celebrating. Also, this week’s Running Thread features a conversation between IFYC’s Senior Vice President Tony Banout and Rev. Fred Davie, Senior Advisor for Racial Equity on the relevance of Juneteenth and Black interfaith for this moment in our nation’s history. Rev. Davie offered this poignant memory as part of the discussion:
“It dawned on me recently that every year we would have a huge block party on a Sunday in June, right after church. All the black churches, with hundreds of people, would come to my aunts’ lawn, and I now realize that the older generation was celebrating Juneteenth without calling it Juneteenth. Now I view remembering and claiming the actual story of Juneteenth as necessary - the fact that people were kept enslaved for two years after they were technically freed. Juneteenth recognizes slavery, its legacy, and the struggle to claim the freedom that this nation declares that we have.”
If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today.
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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.