Yesterday, the United States declared Juneteenth, which commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers brought news of emancipation to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, a federal holiday. This year is only the second time the Juneteenth flag will fly over the Wisconsin State Capitol, and the first time it will fly on the UW-Madison campus.
There are many ways to acknowledge and celebrate Juneteenth – this article from the UW-Madison Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement shares some history of Juneteenth as well as observations and celebrations happening in the Madison area.
The acknowledgement of Juneteenth as a holiday is certainly important, and there’s still so much work to be done to make sure the holiday is more than a symbolic gesture. Within our field, for example, there are efforts like the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, and expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage. More broadly, it’s things like protecting voting rights, reimagining our justice systems, and supporting comprehensive education about race, racism and systemic oppression in our country.
I will spend some time this weekend learning more about the history and significance of Juneteenth. If you’re newly acquainted with this holiday, please join me in learning more, and making plans to work for equitable systems and structures in our state and country.