Juneteenth: A Day to Listen, Learn and Commit

Blog

On June 19, we celebrate and honor Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating when news of the emancipation of enslaved people reached Texas—nearly two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Far too many white Americans do not know the significance of Juneteenth, a day often spent exploring and celebrating Black American history and heritage. Recognizing it as a holiday is a step forward in acknowledging our nation’s history of slavery and racism, as well as the need to do more to live up to our ideals as a nation.

Today, 155 years later, we find almost every facet of our society is still deeply rooted in this longstanding history of racial inequity. Black Americans continue to be targeted and killed in their homes, parks and other public spaces. They have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, due to the exacerbation of pre-existing inequities related to health, employment and income. And Black Americans continue to face inequitable access to educational and occupational opportunities.

This year, as we bear witness to an outpouring of anger and grief in response to ongoing anti-Black racism and violence in the U.S., Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the responsibility we each have to take purposeful action toward racial justice and to work toward an anti-racist society.

Here at our Foundation, going forward, our U.S. offices will observe Juneteenth as a holiday and as an opportunity to continue our learning about what it means to work toward racial equity in this country. In doing this, we continue to draw insights from our staff journey to Alabama last year. The journey centered our commitment to racial equity, in particular, and focused on listening and learning. To help guide us, we engaged The Equity Lab, led by Michelle Molitor, who designed a robust curriculum for our staff before, during and after the trip.

As we center Black histories and celebrations on Juneteenth, we share resources from our curriculum that helped us, particularly our white colleagues, better understand our history of slavery and the present-day impact of systemic racism, structural inequity and mass incarceration in America.

Get the full list of resources here.

We hope that these resources are helpful to you on your listening and learning journey and also in engaging more people and organizations in the urgent work of racial justice.


In addition to these resources, we invite you to learn more about our Foundation's journey to Alabama, read our statement on recent acts of racism in the U.S., and explore our criminal justice and K12 education grantmaking portfolios.