This week Congress overwhelmingly approved a measure that President Biden signed into law to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday—a long overdue recognition of a critical moment in our nation’s history.
On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, the last group of enslaved people in the U.S. learned they were free two years after the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery had been issued.
Today, we celebrate Juneteenth to commemorate the end of slavery and persevere as we continue on the long journey toward freedom.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has chosen to observe the holiday each year by closing its offices. We will be closed on Friday, June 18, this year. We do so to give our staff time for celebration, education and connection.
We applaud Congress for this recognition, but we also demand that lawmakers prioritize racial equity with the same level of support when it comes to economic mobility, education, health care, housing, policing and voting rights.
James Baldwin famously said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Recognizing Juneteenth is a small step toward racial reconciliation for our country, but we cannot begin to eradicate the racist systems that rule our society without addressing our shameful past head on.
Juneteenth is that starting point. It encourages dialogue around the deferred dream of freedom that has always existed for Black people in the United States and what our nation truly values.
Black people were not included when the phrase “justice for all” was originally championed in the vision laid out for our country. Since then, systems of power have intentionally kept Black Americans from being included.
On Juneteenth we imagine what our country could be if we prioritized racial justice and equity to build a truly inclusive democracy that realizes the ideals our country was founded upon.
Equal justice for all is impossible to realize without this hard, necessary work.
At Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, we fight for equal justice under the law every day for our clients, a majority of whom are people of color disproportionately impacted by poverty.
We commit to actively dismantling these systems through our work.
We are striving to build a more just community. And doing so requires taking a hard look at our practices and making sure that everything we do lives up to our standard of justice—one that truly ensures equity and opportunity for all.
Thank you for supporting us in these efforts.
Happy Juneteenth from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
Celebrate Juneteenth with us:
Educate yourself: Spend the day learning about Juneteenth’s history, including how Black families felt after being emancipated. Watch the documentary 13th on Netflix, or engage with other movies, shows, books and podcasts about systemic racism. Check out this Anti-Racist reading list from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s staff.
Participate in local and virtual Juneteenth events: Find an event near you with this local guide from Axios Charlotte
Juneteenth Programing at the Harvey B. Gantt Center
Virtual Programing from the National Museum of African American History
Reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, the racist system it built persists today. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against Black people in America and throughout the world.
Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate younger kids in your neighborhood who may not know about the holiday.
Celebrate with a cookout: Gather your friends and family together (safely) to celebrate freedom.
Keep the spirit of this special day alive by continuing to fight for justice for ALL!