More than a century and a half ago, on June 19th 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, where he read federal orders proclaiming all enslaved people in the state were now free. While this was more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Texas was the last state to adopt it. Since then, on June 19th every year, the United States has celebrated Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the final and full emancipation of enslaved Americans.
As we celebrate this year’s Juneteenth amid this period of national soul-searching and action, our organization is also reflecting on the moment and how we can be better allies in the struggle for justice. We are proud to have a diverse staff and board, and while all of us can—and need to—do better, we have been listening. We all need to strive to recognize systemic injustice and do our part to address it, not just under the law but through our everyday actions. We all need to commit ourselves to fighting for equal treatment every day to create a society where justice for all is a fact and not just an ideal.
Our organization has always been rooted in helping people and we must once again expand this mission to stand in solidarity with those who have been marginalized and making meaningful changes to heal our nation—not just on June 19th, but every day moving forward. OLA is working on a summary of things that we can do to educate ourselves and be informed, suggestions on what we can do with our time and resources to help make change real. We will share this resource guide with you shortly. In the meantime, please take today to reflect on how you can help friends, family, co-workers and our communities accept and love one another unconditionally once and for all.