Holidays matter, and—as the newest federally recognized holiday—it is heartening to know that Juneteenth now has the time and space for reflection it requires.
On Juneteenth, we celebrate freedom, remembrance, and hope. We lift up the real and painful history of our nation. We acknowledge how far we still have to go in order to see true freedom and liberation for Black communities in the U.S.
As is often seen with progress and visibility, the racial reckoning in this country that began in 2020 has triggered a wave of backlash in the form of physical violence, content and language restrictions in schools, and attacks on Critical Race Theory—restricting an entire generation’s education on the truth of systemic racism and our history. These efforts are attempts to erase history. To ease white peoples’ guilt and uphold white supremacy.
Today, we acknowledge the importance of this holiday, especially in a climate like the one we find ourselves in. We take time and space to remember—while so many in our country do everything in their power to make us forget.
The backlash we are seeing is driven by those who fear the loss of their power—and we are seeing their agenda in action. This agenda doesn’t stop at racial justice; the same people who are attacking Critical Race Theory are leading the way in the fight against trans communities and access to abortion. It’s another reminder of the fierce intersections of our movements—and that we rise and fall with the strength of our connections.
Despite the progress we have seen, our country continues to be entrenched in anti-Blackness. And this year there were too many examples of when anti-Blackness meant physical violence and death for Black communities—from the murders of Black individuals by police, to the murders of Black trans women, to the white supremacist killing spree in Buffalo last month.
Juneteenth is about how we can create different worlds. Different realities than what we have ever known. But we have a long way to go, and change is not inevitable. These different worlds are something we have to build actively together, especially while there are people working against us.
Today we commit to doing everything we can to build a world where Black peoples’ liberation is centered in our movements. Juneteenth is the holiday when we can pause and reflect on how this commitment translates into action throughout the year. Because holidays matter—especially this one, and especially now.