Juneteenth is a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865, just 156 years ago. The day is marked by jubilation in and beyond Black communities in America as we celebrate Black culture, Black history, and Black liberation.
On Juneteenth 2021 in particular, we are reminded of the stark juxtaposition of the challenges faced by those who have fought and continue to fight against injustice, positioned alongside their triumphant celebrations of liberation. This liberation is a continuous fight; through raising awareness of historical moments such as this one, we empower students to advocate for themselves and for other historical moments that have gotten lost over time or that we have yet to bear witness to.
At its heart, though, Juneteenth is a reminder to Americans that as a nation, we will never truly be liberated until all of us are liberated.
As Nelson Mandela said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” The freedom and struggle embodied on Juneteenth is a call for solidarity across all causes of freedom and liberation; a struggle that ANet persists in through our commitment to live out our organization’s Anti-Racist Policy and Standards in service of our mission. The spirit of Juneteenth can energize that mission as we work to usher in the delayed justice that is educational liberation for all.
In the spirit of enhancing the freedom of others and working together toward true liberation, we encourage you to use this coming Saturday, June 19th, 2021 as a day of both reflection and action across individuals, work teams, families and communities.
Opportunities for reflection on Juneteenth
For Black Americans and allies alike, engage/re-engage with family, friends or colleagues near and far to read, view, and/or discuss the history of Juneteenth as well as today’s racial injustices:
- History of Juneteenth from Juneteenth.com
- What to Know About Juneteenth from NBC News
- Engage in important introspection or acts of personal growth aligned to becoming an ally toward racial justice and true liberation for all Americans
For Black Americans holding a share of trauma or ongoing experiences impacted by anti-Black racial injustices, consider not only reflection or action you may decide to take but also consider being strategic and intentional to carve out some time for real rest and rejuvenation while celebrating liberation independently or alongside family, friends, or your community.
Taking action on Juneteenth, 2021
- Community activism such as service for Black LGBTQ+ youth, Black mental health initiatives, or other collaboration in a Black community
- Engaging your family in a “We Will be an Anti-Racist Family” summer reading and learning plan similar to this one that emphasizes authentic storytelling and the elevation of voices of color alongside those of White allies toward racial justice
- For teachers and educational leaders wondering how they can engage their students and school communities in learning around Juneteenth, consider Teaching Juneteenth from Learning For Justice by Teaching Tolerance
For teachers and educational leaders looking to impact change at a school, network or district level, consider engaging in ANet’s recent webinar series, Anti-Racism Toward Racial Equity & Racial Healing in Schools.
This series is free and available for on-demand viewing at bit.ly/anetarwebinar. Topics covered in this three-part webinar series are:
- Pursuing Equitable Instruction: Connecting Anti-Racism to Action
- Engaging Communities in the Work Toward Racial Equity in Education
- Racial Healing and Leadership: Executive Coaching and Modeling
Learn more: ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to providing all students, regardless of circumstance, with a high-quality education. Our work is guided by our vision for educational equity, our commitment to anti-racism, and the voices and experiences of our partners and their communities. Visit us at www.achievementnetwork.org.