Juneteenth: A message from SAFE’s Black/African-American Staff Task Force

Written by SAFE

Each year on June 19, individuals of African descent and their allies come together to commemorate June 19, 1865 when enslaved individuals living in Texas learned that slavery was abolished in Texas and the United States.

Juneteenth is a nationwide event that commemorates the end of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, an institution of enslavement that remained in place for 400 years. The slave trade relied on state-sanctioned and interpersonal forms of violence and abuse, including sexual assault, child abuse, and human trafficking—areas of abuse that SAFE seeks to stop.

It is especially appropriate to acknowledge this holiday as a memorial honoring the significant loss of life due to the contemporary re-articulation of racist violence that mirrors the lack of respect and value for Black life that existed during and after the institution of U.S. slavery. To name only a few of those recent deaths: Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright.

And now, as the United States officially recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday, The SAFE Alliance and SAFE’s Black/African-American Staff Task Force hope that you will reflect on this historic day this Saturday and that Juneteenth will highlight the necessity of continuing social justice work in 2021 and beyond. Don’t let the country’s recognition of Juneteenth only be a symbolic achievement—use the day to insist on freedom and equal treatment for all people regardless of race, sex, gender identity, national origin, ability, language, ethnicity, or any identity.