by Tysheka McDonald, Human Resources Associate
Black Americans have long recognized Juneteenth—when news of Emancipation finally reached enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation—as integral to the understanding of independence in the United States. In June 2017, shortly after another murder of a black man, Philando Castille, by Minneapolis police, Vann R. Newkirk II wrote in The Atlantic of the belated Emancipation celebration’s “quintessential Americanness.”
“As a national holiday,” he said, “Juneteenth, immersed as it is in both the canon of old history and the ongoing struggle for civil rights, would be the only one that celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed.”
Three years later, Juneteenth 2020 comes at a time when Black people are still dying at the hands of police in Minneapolis and across the country, and the question of freedom for Black Americans is still challenged by persistent racism. But it also coincides with growing, widespread support for mounting efforts to disrupt and dismantle that racism.
This day offers a catalyst and inspiration for continued conversations. We should all use this time to pause and reflect on the ongoing struggle for racial justice and to raise our consciousness about how we interact with each other in the various spaces we exist—at our workplaces, with our loved ones, in the communities where we live, and beyond.
At the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, we are committed to keeping this conversation going as we look for actionable steps to undo racism, sexism, and other entrenched forms of discrimination. Collectively, we endeavor to find ways to embrace and celebrate the rich diversity of our institution as we work to deepen equity and justice.