We invite and encourage you and your family and friends to celebrate Juneteenth 2021 this coming weekend!
Juneteenth — America’s more rightful Independence Day — is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863. Read more about the history of Juneteenth here.
This year, a 3-day free community event will be held at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque: NEW MEXICO JUNETEENTH 2021: “TO A HIGHER GROUND.” The theme is Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) and will include Black-owned businesses, artisans, vendors, performers, together to celebrate. Enjoy live music, food, dancing and other entertainment. Full details, including a link to donate are here.
In addition to celebrations, Juneteenth is a time for reflection and conversation about race and equity. In 2019, Common Cause Legal Fellow Tierra Bradford penned this insightful piece about the continued disproportionate imprisonment of Black Americans as a form of continued slavery, writing in part:
“As we reflect on this Juneteenth, we should think about what we can do to create change. There was so much work that had to be done by abolitionists and activists in order to change enough peoples’ minds about slavery. The same has to happen now with how people view prison slavery and the many issues that are at the intersection of mass incarceration and democracy: the prison industry influence on politics, felony disenfranchisement, prison gerrymandering, accountability in our criminal justice system, etc. While we celebrate freedom and independence this summer, we should remember the causes we still have to fight for.”
Also, we encourage you to make a donation to the New Mexico Black Voters’ Collaborative. We are proud to stand alongside the NMBVC in their fight for a more equitable, reflective and accessible democracy in New Mexico. Please consider giving in celebration of Juneteenth! And don’t miss the NMBVC booth at Civic Plaza on Saturday the 19th between 6 PM and 7 PM for a meet and greet with U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, Sen. Harold Pope Jr., and Chief Public Defender Bennett J. Baur.
Lastly, we are pleased to share that Congress yesterday passed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, and President Biden has signed it into law. We are encouraged by this step and hope it is the first of many reforms that go beyond symbolism to create a just and equitable nation for Black Americans.
Thank you for all that you do to celebrate diversity and democracy!