By Annie Regan and Claudia Di Lima
June 16, 2023
Each year, the month of June marks the anniversary of Juneteenth — the day in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, and enslaved African Americans became aware that they had been freed.
This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. That news—long delayed by the slaveholders, in a state under Confederate control until the end of the war, set off wide ranging celebrations among the 250 thousand enslaved Black people in Texas.
The delay was telling. It was an early signal that real change would face resistance and take time to implement. While slavery in its most horrific form was abolished, the exploitation and oppression of Black and brown people (as well as other groups) continue today.
But there was, and is, cause for celebration and education. That is part of the meaning of Juneteenth: It shows us that while change is too slow, change IS possible. When white allies join the celebration of Juneteenth, they are working to heal the moral wounds that are result of the (often unconscious) participation in the system that has caused so much pain to so many.
Here at ReImagine Appalachia, policy is our love language, and we are working on tangible pathways to reimagine our region that is more inclusive and prioritizes opportunities in the new energy economy for Black workers. This means making sure Black-led organizations and residents are involved early on in the Community Benefits planning process to say what their communities should look like!
So, as we continue our work to make a more sustainable and equitable Appalachia for all, let’s also join in on the celebration of Juneteenth and amplify the work from our Black partners! We encourage you all to check out the great work our friends at the Black Appalachian Coalition are doing through their Facebook here.
And start the celebrating by playing our Juneteenth Playlist featuring Black Appalachian musicians:
Events in Appalachia
- Join the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture’s Juneteenth celebration during the entire month of June
- BLAC’s Storytelling Toolkit Launch: June 28th, 2pm- The toolkit is for organizations and communities that are leading transformational efforts and are interested in harnessing the power of storytelling in their advocacy efforts. We hope the information contained in this toolkit makes policy work accessible for communities of all sizes across the country.
Allegheny County/ Greater Pittsburgh Area:
- University of Pittsburgh and 1Hood Media present, “This Thing We Call Hip Hop” On June 15th, 7-9pm at the 1Hood Blaxk Box Theater
Western Maryland/Eastern Panhandle WV/Franklin County PA