With so much hurt and anger consuming the Black community today, we are grateful for an opportunity to celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the ending of more than 400 years of chattel slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1685, two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, that all states finally complied with that order. We honor this day because it is a solemn reminder of the long-overdue victory over slavery and the continued fight for equality we still seek today. This week, we took time to reflect on the beauty of Black culture and the plight of Black lives in America. We invited a few of our team members to pin their reflections for you below.
India D. Williams, Founder & CEO
For me, Juneteenth is a sobering reminder that freedom is rarely, if ever, free. The “land of the free” rings hollow for so many, including myself. While we’ve come a long way, Black folks, particularly Black women, are still not free. We’re just bound by different chains — the prison industrial complex, pay inequity, underfunded schools, lack of access to capital to start our businesses — and white supremacy is the lock on the chains. Yet, Juneteenth is also a reminder of the resiliency and creativity of Black folks. We not only survived, but we managed to transform our pain from oppression and unspeakable acts of violence into song, art, literature, entrepreneurship, and inventions. Every day, I’m proud to be a Black woman. On Juneteenth, I’m reminded of the shoulders on which I stand. I thank my ancestors, and I renew my commitment to be the best version of me because of their sacrifices.
Amanda Monocado-Perkins, Business Management Consultant
I am the product of my ancestors' wildest, yet most delicately contrived dreams. I imagine they thought, "What would freedom look like for a young, determined Black woman in America with ancestors covering her and hoping, praying and willing her success beyond bondage? She would use the power of these prayers and hopes to climb as far as possible up the educational totem pole to ring a loud bell to acknowledge that we have arrived to stay. She would speak boldly and with conviction to everyone about her desires, her beliefs and her fortitude to want justice and liberty for all people. She would dare to invest in her own dreams, business, property and community. She would allow her dreams to dwarf her fears. There would be little to stop her from achieving her dreams. She would encourage and uplift her people and spread love and peace wherever she went because she has been so blessed that she is running over with abundance. Most importantly, she would never forget the sacrifice of her ancestors. As she lives, she carries their spirit as a reminder that they are living out their dreams. One day, she will pass her own along to the next generation, and they will never forget.”
When I think of Juneteenth, these visions are what come to mind for me. The fight for the release of the physical shackles from my ancestors allowed a spiritual release of empowerment for me, for us. I am grateful.
Danielle Hairston, Copywriter
Juneteenth is my chance to embrace progress. After countless slave rebellions, Underground Railroad escapes, and civil war, all of our ancestors were finally freed from more than 400 years of captivity! It reminds me that little wins add up to big ones; that if we continue to stand up for ourselves, we will be heard. It gives me hope that as we push for justice through the Black Lives Matter Movement that we, too, will see change like our ancestors did. Coretta Scott King said, "Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation." I agree. Our ancestors sacrificed too much for us to give up without giving this movement our all. Preserving black lives will forever require wisdom, strategy, and comradery — which we have proven that we have time and time again. Juneteenth empowers me to believe that as we grow in knowledge and zeal, the future is ours for the taking!
Today, people all over the world are demanding racial and economic justice for Black Americans. We celebrate the individuals standing up to fight white supremacy and eliminate the enduring effects of racism to build an equitable future. We acknowledge you and the difficult, frustrating, and often overwhelming work required to fight for what you know to be right on the front lines, your workplace, and even in your homes. Celebrate yourself this weekend, too, by making room for the self-love and self-care you deserve.
Lastly, capture some of your joy and share your reflections with us on Instagram @RootedWoman.