WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Organization for Women recognizes Juneteenth– the holiday commemorating the day the last enslaved people in this country were finally freed. While Juneteenth has long been celebrated by the Black community, many Americans don’t even know the history of the holiday. This lack of awareness is another example of how history is told and distorted by those in power.
In 2021, Juneteenth has more profound importance than ever as we’ve seen how racial discrimination is still very much an American value and how we have failed – and continue to fail – as a country to listen to people of color.
To achieve racial justice, we need to fully recognize and discuss the history of race in this country, especially our relationship to slavery and how it has played a role in creating the inequitable structures that exist in society today.
NOW is dedicated to doing better, and pushing our society to do better. We can start by amplifying diverse voices and experiences whenever we talk about the history of our country. And while making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a move in the right direction to more visibly recognize our country’s past, we need to continue urging our leaders to bring racial issues to the forefront with more concrete actions, for example by making critical race theory part of educational curriculums and passing important legislation like S.1, For the People Act, which works to eliminate oppressive bills embedded with racism and oppression.
This Juneteenth NOW celebrates the bravery and resilience of the enslaved women and men on which our country was founded and honors their legacy through our commitment to educating our members and uplifting marginalized voices when we talk about the past, present, and future. We know we cannot effectively or holistically promote anti-sexism without being anti-racist as well.
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