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Juneteenth: GLIDE’s Celebration and Fight for Justice

juneteenth march rally 2024

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth, officially Juneteenth National Independence Day, is a federal holiday in the United States. It is celebrated annually on June 19 to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States.

So, what happened and how did Juneteenth start:

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed enslaved people in Confederate states, but it did not immediately end slavery in places such as Texas that remained under Confederate control.

Two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union troops led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Tex., and announced that more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state were free. (Nationwide emancipation would come only with the ratification of the 13th Amendment later that year.)

For Black people, the news was a moment of “indescribable joy” that was met with large celebrations in Texas. Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day and Black Independence Day, the day remains deeply significant for the community.

Juneteenth is a bitter symbol of just how long African Americans have struggled for true freedom. While the announcement in Galveston was met with jubilation, I encourage you to sit for a moment with the knowledge that this blessed moment of liberation did not arrive for a full two and half years after slavery’s official end.

Despite this heaviness, we embrace the vibrant celebration of Juneteenth as a day of reflection and cultural pride. We can honor African American history and the strength of our African ancestors while acknowledging that our sacred work is not done.

As we continue the fight against systemic injustices in our community and around the world, it’s important that we share and learn from one another’s experiences and histories.

In lifting our stories, particularly those of triumph and achievement, we can continue to move forward together on a path with unconditional love and acceptance that GLIDE is built upon.

This Juneteenth, I am thinking about the tremendous achievements and contributions that Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in supporting the economic mobility of African Americans. In fact, the majority of HBCUs were founded directly after the Emancipation Proclamation. It is this rich tradition of HBCUs that we celebrate as they have created pathways for so many African Americans to flourish.

According to a report by the Biden-Harris Administration, HBCU graduates comprise:

●      40 percent of all Black engineers
●      50 percent of all Black teachers
●      70 percent of all Black doctors and dentists
●      80 percent of all Black judges
●      And the first woman and Black and South Asian Vice President of the United States

That’s why I’m so enthusiastic to learn of efforts to bring a HBCU program to downtown San Francisco.

This would bring new activity and development to our downtown and attract promising young talent to San Francisco. In addition to providing a great asset to the community, it would create new paths and opportunities for African American students to learn amongst our city’s most successful businesses and GLIDE.

This is part of the City’s plan to revitalize our neighborhood. Changes are underfoot today for GLIDE to take an active role in contributing to the well-being of our community on 330 Ellis Street and surrounding blocks.

But with each new step forward, there will be those who seek to halt our progress and path of unconditional love.

There are well-resourced groups fighting every day to undo many of the programs and opportunities that have enabled progress among underrepresented groups. One example of the obstacles we continue to face is a recent Appeals Court ruling that a venture capital firm’s grant program to support Black women business owners, the Fearless Fund in Atlanta, is discriminatory.

In the article linked above, the Fearless Fund’s lawyer Alphonso David, described the ruling as “the first court decision in the 150+ year history of the post-Civil War civil rights law that has halted private charitable support for any racial or ethnic group.”

At GLIDE, we will also be fearless in our fight for freedom, justice, and equality.

It is vital that we work to create new avenues for an equitable and just society here in San Francisco and beyond. Your voice, your advocacy and your votes will play a crucial role in cementing the gains we celebrate on Juneteenth, and in creating new opportunities for success in the years to come!

Join our movement as a social justice warrior, volunteer, or donate!