This Saturday is June 19th, or Juneteenth: a commemoration of the specific day in 1865 that enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, TX found out they were free - two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had already freed enslaved Blacks in Confederate states. And it wasn’t until just yesterday - over 150 years later - that Juneteenth was finally signed into law as a federal holiday.
In an interview with Vox in 2018, Karlos Hill - professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Oklahoma - shared about the importance of observing Juneteenth:
“There are those in this society that still hold on to the idea that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, it was about states’ rights or Northern aggression against slavery. You have those in society that like to tell the story of the Civil War exclusively through the eyes of the Confederacy and not through the eyes of enslaved people.
Juneteenth is a moment where we step back and try to understand the Civil War through the eyes of enslaved people. There is an argument to be made that we use Juneteenth as part of an effort of enslaved people to liberate themselves from bondage.”
While recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday marks a major milestone in terms of a nation formally attempting to grapple with its legacy of slavery, we believe that it should represent more than just a day off from school and work. Inspired by Bandcamp's Juneteenth fundraising efforts, 3sixteen will be donating 100% of our proceeds from all in-store and online sales on June 19th, 2021 to Prosperity Now as part of our ongoing commitment as a company towards racial justice and equality. Prosperity Now is a Washington DC-based nonprofit that utilizes research, policy advocacy and grassroots educational efforts to aid communities of color in tax planning, homeownership, financial capability, and debt elimination to help bring about racial wealth equity. Read more about what they do here.
We believe that continuing to take steps towards liberation must manifest itself in different ways. These steps include fighting voter disenfranchisement, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting proper school curriculums that teach about the entirety of our nation’s history - not just the rosy parts. But they must also involve wealth redistribution. As we all take time to reflect upon the stain of slavery upon our nation’s past, our hope is that we can all find ways to look forward with committed action.