Although having a day off to celebrate Juneteenth is a start, it’s not enough. However, I am encouraged by World Animal Protection’s support as we pay homage to freedom and justice for all. Our organization has committed itself to dive deep into the hard and uncomfortable conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity.
In America, Independence Day is celebrated as a national holiday on July 4. The first Independence Day was officially organized in Philadelphia, PA on July 4, 1777.
However, the road for all Americans was not easy nor celebrated, especially for African Americans. January 1, 1863, known as Freedom’s Eve, was the initial start of freedom for enslaved people, but not all were considered legally free! Although watch services were held in churches with the great news of The Emancipation Proclamation, there were still states in the former confederacy such as Texas that upheld enslavement of Black people.
It was on June 19, 1865, when we were truly emancipated, and that day is now known as Juneteenth/African American Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. This year marks an exciting time in our history, as congress passed a bill: the Juneteenth Independence Day Act. Juneteenth will serve as the nation’s 12th federal holiday following the addition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
Personally, Juneteenth has a profound and much deeper meaning for me than most of my colleagues. I will admit working for an animal welfare organization was a change for me. I did not see many faces that mirrored my own. Representation matters. Over the past year we’ve faced many obstacles in the fight to end systematic racism, pandemic fatigue, police brutality, and just overall fear. As I write this blog, I’m awash with emotion.
Although having a day off to celebrate Juneteenth is a start, it is not enough. However, I am encouraged by World Animal Protection’s support as we pay homage to freedom and justice for all. Our organization has committed itself to dive deep into the hard and uncomfortable conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity. In these conversations and learnings, we begin to shed the layers of our own unconscious biases. We are fully committed to helping to end systemic racism and create equal opportunities for the disenfranchised.
This is how we can help create better lives for animals: by building a team of better people! We are committed to also shining a light on Black Farmers who help propel our work against factory farming and producing high-welfare meat. We’re committed to opening the door to our Black vegan and vegetarian communities for cross-collaboration.
It is our hope you will continue to support our work and celebrate the people behind the scenes who make it all come together as we will respect one another’s differences. In the end, it is for the better good as we continue to move the world to protect animals.
This Juneteenth celebrate with us as it is also Black American Music Month. Maybe peruse a record store (for those of us who still frequent 😊) or visit a streaming service and listen to the sounds of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, or whomever you like. Perhaps learn about some of our many great Black inventors and artists or share the history of Juneteenth with your family and friends. This Juneteenth, we also recognize our Black LGBTQIA+ community as June is Pride Month. Please take a moment to think about how we can shine a light on the undervalued, underserved and often abused members of that community.