June 19th marks Juneteenth (also known as “Jubilee Day”, “Freedom Day”, and “Black Independence Day”), a national holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas in 1865. The emancipation in Texas came two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. In 1865, Texas still enslaved many African Americans and was unwilling to dispense freedom, despite the president's orders. Finally, 160 years ago today, Major General Gordon Granger, along with 2,000 federal troops, arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the liberation of all African Americans.
Although widely recognized amongst the Black community since its inception in 1865, Juneteenth was only recently declared a national holiday, following the murder of George Floyd. Its declaration as a national holiday only two years ago reminds us of the long-running fight for Black recognition and Black equity. It reminds us of where we started, where we have come from, and what there is left to do.
Recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances
Providing the same to all.
CYS is honored to have been a partner in the Black Equity Initiative, which has since been evolved and expanded into the Black Equity Collective, to center Black equity, given that “the history of institutional dis-investment in Black people must be undone if we are to pursue progress toward true equity at scale.” We are able to invest in the Black community when Black equity is prioritized. At CYS, we invest in youth by working with our schools. Through restorative justice practices, we build leadership in school staff, provide resources to the school community, and advocate to change systems that display the greatest disparities. Pat Parker, Lead Schools & Community Partnerships Specialist at CYS shares an example of how schools are currently working towards Black equity, "While exploring the intersections of Black Equity and Restorative Justice practices, a principal at one of the local elementary schools we serve decided to raise the expectation levels for all of their performance-challenged black youth by placing them in the Gifted And Talented Educational (GATE) classes. Each of those students rose academically. He observes, 'Students will either live up to or down to our expectations of them.'" By investing in young students, this local elementary school is investing in its community's future. There are so many amazing efforts and leaders working towards a more equitable future. As we look back at our country's history (since and before June 19th, 1865), we will find countless strong Black leaders and voices who have, in the face of adversity dedicated their lives to not only their own community, but to all marginalized communities.
In honor of today, learn about (just some of) our history's most impressive activists, artists, and revolutionaries:
Black equity is an integral part of the CYS mission, values, and goals. We invite you to learn more about how we center these values in our work and promote them within our community. Please visit our website to find CYS' Black Equity Priorities.