June 19th, 1865 is the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas found out that they were officially free. Surprisingly, emancipation had occurred two-and-a-half years earlier; however, the American Civil War only ended on April 9th of 1865. Since there were few union soldiers in Texas to enforce the newly won freedom, it took another two months for black people in Galveston to know they were free. This bespoke the reluctance in the United States to give black people their true freedom and equality, despite the results of emancipation and the war.
Emancipation was a reason to celebrate in 1865 and remains so to this day. June 19th was celebrated first in Texas and in the years since, it has spread nationwide and became known as Juneteenth. Today, activists are campaigning the federal government to recognize it as a national holiday.
The journey to equal rights for freed slaves and their progeny across America has been evolving, extremely difficult, and too slow. Now, one hundred and fifty-five years later, we as a country are still struggling to reach this goal.
At RPF Environmental, we celebrate the achievements so far and applaud further movement towards an America where black people have the same opportunities to achieve their dreams as everyone else. This does not happen without support from folks across the country. To help expedite the goal, we are donating to organizations that assist black people in important ways.
One organization that we are donating to is NBCDI, the National Black Child Development Institute. NBCDI focuses on the education, care, and health of black children. From supporting teachers who respond to the children’s needs, to advocacy for black children in schools, to reinforcement for parents and caregivers to engage with their children in ways that support social-emotional and cognitive development, and to challenging all adults in black communities to invest their energy in the success of every black child, the range of services they provide and the activities they perform are impressive. On their website, nbcdi.org, they quote Frederick Douglass, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Another organization that RPF Environmental is donating to, is the National Urban League, more specifically and locally, the National Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (ULEM). This is an organization that has been in operation since 1919 in Boston and surrounding areas. Their overarching goal is to assist people in overcoming social, racial, and economic barriers; and to deal with domestic and sexual violence, so that they can find success with economic development and in the workforce. Their momentous services and programs have given hope and self-reliance to many black people in Eastern Massachusetts and they have had a lasting, positive impact on the community. Additionally, on their home webpage ulem.org, they have made a strong statement about their advocacy for reforming police practices and promoting racial reconciliation.
Please join us in celebrating Juneteenth with hearts full of hope that black people can live in America with freedom and equality. And please join us in supporting movement towards this goal and applauding those who are peacefully working to make it a reality.