Today, I’m thinking about where we were just a year ago. I bet you are too. So many issues were converging – the pandemic, daily racial and social justice demonstrations, lockdowns and curfews, and a general sense of uncertainty. Borne out of that storm of confusion, though, many of us began to look at our families, our neighbors, and our communities as Americans banding together in a common struggle. And part of being in it together is truly recognizing our shared history – one that includes the dark mark of slavery and disregard for our own rule of law and humanity as it continued for almost another three years after it was abolished in 1862.
This year, Children’s Home & Aid is officially recognizing Juneteenth (June 19th) as an agency holiday and we are excited to see that Illinois, 46 other states and the District of Columbia also recognize Juneteenth as a public or state holiday. And today, Congress passed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, with President Joe Biden expected to sign it into law shortly. It is an opportunity to reflect on the terrible stain in our shared history, where human beings were bought and sold as property. My hope is that all of us take a deep dive into the history of Juneteenth, a story of bondage and freedom, and that we also commit to liberating ourselves from the biases and misconceptions of the history books responsible for minimizing the terrible legacy of slavery.
To support this journey, we invite you to engage in activities both live and virtual like those offered by the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Confronting the reality of slavery in America’s history is part of the work we are doing as an agency to invest more fully in families as the most important asset for a child’s well-being. When we better understand the barriers to all families thriving—like systemic racism and widening wealth gaps—we are more effective advocates, coaches and mentors ready to partner with those we serve to dismantle these barriers together.
Though many Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth for over 150 years, it’s time for us all to join in a reckoning of the legacy of slavery in our country and how our past has shaped our present. This is how we begin our collective effort to end the detrimental and regressive practices denying far too many families of opportunity and dignity.
I hope you are able to take advantage of the many resources available to learn more about this important day in our history.
Ask questions, share your thoughts and encourage others to do the same. This is how we create a better and brighter shared history.
CEO & President