WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, June 19th, the National Organization for Women recognizes Juneteenth, a holiday honoring the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people were free in Texas. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, this day marks the liberation of 250,000 Texans.
On June 19th, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger publicly read General Order No. 3, which stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This day quickly grew to become a holiday within Black communities that included food, dance, and community celebration and acknowledgment.
President Trump tried to hijack this day of celebration by holding a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city with its own history of violent racism – in 1921 white citizens killed and wounded several hundred African Americans, destroying their homes and businesses. Although he ultimately moved the date, this thoughtless act further proves how little he cares for the Black community.
Juneteenth honors a time in our nation’s history when our country began the process of undoing the impact of centuries of slavery, and our work still continues today to dismantle structural racism. Our country is at a crossroads, and we must create a more just and equal society, especially for the Black community. Non-Black allies not only need to reconcile their own biases to become better allies but dismantle forms of complicity that perpetuate racial oppression.
At the National Organization for Women, we are committed to antiracist feminism. We know that women of color will not be free unless we are intentionally being both anti-sexist and anti-racist. Every aspect of our work, from reproductive justice to constitutional equality, is motivated by our desire to include and honor women of color.