From the desk of Dr. Marc Gorelick, Children’s Minnesota president and CEO
Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and achievement. The June 19th holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free at last; news of the Emancipation Proclamation had finally reached Texas.
Juneteenth serves as an opportunity to celebrate freedom, but also poignantly acknowledge the history of slavery in our country. On Juneteenth, we remember the struggle, we honor the Black experience and acknowledge there is work still to be done to ensure freedom brings equality, justice and respect to all.
This year, Juneteenth is happening amid nationwide protests against systematic racism and police brutality. The murder of George Floyd by police officers just a few blocks from our Minneapolis campus remains a painful reminder that racial injustice limits the freedom for people of color. Structural racism has been with us for hundreds of years and racism in America has been a particularly stubborn problem. Progress has been painfully slow and halting.
In these times of communal grief and anger, we also have determination, resolve and learning. We need to be better listeners and actively seek to more clearly understand each other. There is great learning that can happen when we open ourselves up to hearing a different perspective than our own.
Juneteenth is a time to recommit ourselves to the work that remains undone. In honor of Juneteenth, I ask that you make time to educate yourself about the history of racism in America, volunteer with a civil rights organization or join in the rebuilding effort of our communities destroyed by the recent civil unrest. Let’s work together to honor and celebrate the racial diversity that makes us stronger and a better community. Thank you.