Happy Juneteenth YWFC Fam!
Here at YWFC, we celebrate the holidays that have meaning to our people!
Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day for African American folks, and it began in Texas. Black Texans were not notified of their freedom until June 19th, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Juneteenth acknowledges the many generations of ancestors who have paved the way for us in this fight for liberation.
A Brief History of Juneteenth (Houstonia)
A Legacy of Injustice (Equal Justice Initiative)
We are honoring what our ancestors had to go through. Slavery is not completely over and we’re not completely free, but that’s why we’re doing the work we’re doing right now! Pass ACA 3!
Juneteenth is to celebrate our ancestors’ resistance and use the strength of our history to guide our fight for freedom.
Growing up in Texas, this holiday was not recognized in schools, libraries, or other public learning spaces. My mother and father never got this day off work, nor did their parents or their parent’s parents. In Dallas, where I’m from, this was a Black holiday celebrated in Black communities, with other Black folks and not even on the “mainstream culture’s” radar. It was not a holiday I saw non-Black people acknowledge until I was in my late 20s. My elders say the exact day is unknown, they just know that approximately 2.5 years after everyone else was freed, Texas got the news. Can you imagine realizing for 2 years you could have been free, and wasn’t? I also heard stories of Black folks choosing to stay with the slave owner for survival and changing the relationship from enslaved to sharecropping and other forms of domestic/service work. There was no plan for freedom and folks had to figure it out along the way. This is the legacy my elders passed down to me.
This history and story stuck out to me as a queer young person trying to find liberation at the intersection of Blackness and Queerness in Texas, a state that has now voted to take Critical Race Theory from public schools. Dallas, a city with Black leaders that at the time, refused to back Martin Luther King in the bus boycotts, and a state that comes close to meeting California in its number of prisons. At 18 I was harassed and discriminated against at a Salvation Army homeless shelter by the Black women that worked there, for being openly gay with my girlfriend. Freedom in Texas has always felt just out of touch for me. It’s the reason so many queer kids run away from it to the Bay and New York-especially queer Black kids. On this Juneteenth, I honor YWFC for doing something I never saw happen in my youth in Texas; that’s give its employees the day off. I’m 38 and last year was the first time I had a paid day off for this holiday and I’ve been working since I was 14. It matters to have this level of commitment and acknowledgement of this day by the organization. My queer Black liberation is celebrated and that means the world to me. Black folks across the country are asking for more than this holiday from this country, including reparations, equitable transportation, to defund police, Medicare for all, and a host of other things. On this Juneteenth, I encourage you to look to the voices and insights of Black folks and follow their lead. Institutional acknowledgment does not override the structural change needed in this country. May we all know the difference and honor them both, this year.
Happy Juneteenth y’all!