This Sunday, June 19 marks the annual observance of Juneteenth Independence Day. Known more commonly as Juneteenth, this day marks the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 abolition of slavery and emancipation of enslaved people across Texas and the former Confederate states. 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.
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 marches and live music to book readings and beach celebrations. The Boston Globe has compiled a list of 14 fantastic 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.
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. 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. That work continues to this day and will remain central to guiding our mission well into the future.
This Juneteenth and far beyond it, we at Fenway Health encourage everyone to join us in recommitting to fight for Black Lives and demand meaningful change to eliminate the scourge of racism. There are so many things we can all do: Donate to anti-racist causes, lobby lawmakers in support police reform and voting rights, shop at Black businesses, share Black art, lift up Black voices, and support Black leadership locally and nationally. For white community members, this also means doing the daily work of confronting and rejecting racism within our families, our communities, and ourselves. Together, we can build a better, kinder, and more just world for all people.