Honoring Juneteenth 2023

Monday, June 19 marks Juneteenth Independence Day, known more commonly as Juneteenth. This annual observance commemorates the June 19, 1865 abolition of slavery and emancipation of enslaved people across Texas and the former Confederate states. Following the end of the Civil War, the Juneteenth proclamation formally ended one shameful chapter of U.S. history. In honor of the countless people who suffered under the cruelty of slavery and the many who rose up and fought for their freedom, Juneteenth is observed nationwide as a celebration of African American history and heritage.

As we all know, Emancipation was only one battle won in the centuries-long struggle for Black Civil Rights – a struggle that is far from over. The poisonous legacy of racism can be found in the continuing inequities that plaque all aspects of daily life: healthcare, economics, housing, education, the criminal justice system, and voting rights, just to name a few.

How best to honor the spirit of Juneteenth is not something to consider only once a year – it’s a question at the heart of all social justice work, including our work here at Fenway Health. In 2020, we committed to becoming an anti-racist organization by working to overcome the disparities and inequities that exist in the services we provide, the people we reach, and the outcomes we achieve.

To guide this commitment, we established a Racial Equity Action Plan and Health Equity Task Force, and actively expanded our community engagement and partnership efforts to collaborate with organizations to guide and strengthen the intersection of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ issues in our programs and services and increase health equity in the communities we serve. The work of anti-racism is never done, and remains central to our mission each and every day.

Juneteenth is observed as a holiday in Boston and here at Fenway Health. There are many ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year in person and virtually, from festivals to art to live performances. The Boston Globe has compiled a list of great Boston-area events commemorating Juneteenth. We invite you to consider engaging in one or more of the many activities and actions happening over the next several days to actively acknowledge, learn more about, and celebrate Juneteenth.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” We encourage everyone to join in bending the arc by working to eliminate the scourge of racism. There are so many things we can all do, including patronizing Black businesses in Greater Boston and beyond, lifting up Black voices, sharing Black stories on page and on screen, supporting Black leadership locally and nationally, and demanding that elected officials commit to the work of racial justice.

For non-BIPOC community members, this also means doing the work to confront racism within our families, our social circles, and ourselves. Together, we can build a better, kinder, and more just world for all people.

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