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Observing Juneteenth 2024

/ Blog Post

Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. On June 19th, 1865—over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issuedUnion soldiers landed in Galveston, TX to share the news that the war was over and enslaved people were free. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.  

We know the work continues to advance racial justice and we are proud of how our Fellows and alumni are advocating for racial justice across the country. At Equal Justice Works, this day also represents an opportunity to reflect on the work that is being done to further racial justice today. Equal Justice Works Fellows work to advance racial justice both directly and through intersectional issues such as housing justice, disaster resilience, crime victims’ rights, and voting rights.  

Fellows including Justin McCarroll, Makiah Lyons, and Zoè Russell are working to improve outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and people of color throughout the country with projects ranging from advocacy for individuals sentenced to life without parole and changing harmful school discipline policies to disrupting the womb-to-foster care pipeline. Learn more about the Equal Justice Works Fellows whose projects aim to advance racial justice here. 

As activist and author Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” has said, “Changing minds can actually be done. It’s not going to happen in a day. You’ve got to work at it.” 

Additionally, below is a list of some resources for Juneteenth as curated by the Equal Justice Works community:  

Read how Equal Justice Works continues to advance our vision for racial justice: 

  • Equal Justice Works CEO Verna Williams authored an article for Inside Philanthropy that calls on all of us to consider how philanthropy can step up to counteract the limits in place on the use of affirmative action to address racial injustice: “Affirmative Action Counteraction Requires Philanthropy to Step Up.” Read the article here. 
  • Verna also addressed the ongoing struggle for racial justice at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati’s annual Racial Justice Breakfast. In her remarks, she quoted Justice Jackson’s dissent to the majority opinion in SFFA v Harvard: “The only way out of this morass—for all of us—is to stare at racial disparity unblinkingly, and then do what evidence and experts tell us is required to level the playing field and march forward together, collectively striving to achieve true equality for all Americans.” Read Verna’s remarks here. 

Local Juneteenth Celebrations and Events: 

Washington, D.C.:  

Baltimore, MD: AFRAM Festival 

New York, NY: Brooklyn’s 15th Annual Juneteenth Celebration 

Detroit, MI: Juneteenth on the Cut 

Seattle, WA: Northwest African American Museum Celebrates Juneteenth 

New Orleans, LA:  NOLA Juneteenth 

Atlanta, GA:  Juneteenth Atlanta 

Los Angeles, CA:  Celebrate Juneteenth in Los Angeles 

Houston, TX:  Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Emancipation Park 

Galveston, TX: The Birthplace of Juneteenth: Galveston Celebrates Emancipation through Art, Special Events 

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow