The Importance of Juneteeth Day

Op Ed by Ahndrea Blue

This Juneteenth Day, which is Sunday, June 19, it’s important to remember why we are now, finally, as a nation celebrating this day. It not only honors those who experienced true racism, slavery, and the indignities that came with it, but it brings to light the horror of that period of our history, and also celebrates the hard-fought freedom earned through and after the Civil War. It is (or should be) a celebration of those freedoms and liberties taken back – which should’ve never been taken in the first place.

However, systemic inequities which have been in place for centuries are still apart of society. These inequities continue to be perpetuated and are meant to marginalize and keep particular groups of people in their state of poverty and enslavement. Racism and discrimination still exists across all sectors in our society from quality affordable housing, public policies, fairness in employment and hiring practices, in the criminal justice system, health care, and education. It still affects every area that can make a solid difference in opportunities, achievements, and bettering one’s lot in life for the BIPOC community. The system was set up and continues to fail communities of color which is really just a different kind and more veiled form of slavery.

An important question should be asked at this time: would our ancestors, who saw their freedom with such hope and inspiration, be proud of how BIPOC people get to live today? When BIPOC communities experience more hunger, poverty, health care disparities, and they lack the same opportunities to education and means to improving their lives than their white neighbors?

Racial equity. It’s a term we hear a lot lately, especially these past few years. So much so that the message risks losing its meaning. But it is important to voice even louder so that change can finally be made. Imagine if the people, Black ancestors, who fought so hard for the end of slavery had silenced their voice. Where would we be today?

Acknowledging and celebrating Juneteenth is so important because it continues to bring the matter to the forefront so it can finally be addressed and changed. Like those who fought for freedom during the Civil War, we must continue to fight for the end of racism and discrimination. We must continue to bring a strong voice to the inequities that still widely exist so changes can finally be made.

However, I also call to all my African American and BIPOC neighbors to remember not only the purpose of this day, but to never stop looking inward and taking personal action to build a better life for yourself, your family, and your community. Much like what we are doing at Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank, we are always striving to do what we can to help others around us and make life more equitable for all. The action we take to provide equity in food and help people eat what they normally would eat makes a huge impact to uplift people across all backgrounds and ensures they get food with dignity!