“Joy is a part of our inheritance. . . .It is my responsibility in this lifetime, in this generation to really revel in the joy that has been passed on to me through the impossible, through the insurmountable, through so much grotesque horror and brutality (of enslaved Black people). That this joy was passed forward like an envelope that was read and carefully sealed again and passed on to the next generation, and carefully read and passed on to the next. . . .It is our duty to be seen in the power of that joy.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation purported to free enslaved Black people in the Southern states.
Our struggle as Black people is in service of liberation, equity, and justice. It is a movement for social good that elevates and amplifies the voice of all marginalized people. In 2021, Juneteenth was named a federal holiday in the United States and is not only a time of reflection on the history of Black people, it is a stand for joy, faith, resilience, and strength. It is a reminder that nothing is too small for joy, and nothing can shatter the resolute spirit of joy that is the gift of our ancestors and that we pass on to our descendants.
As we navigate through climate crisis, gun violence, social equity and more and consider new ways of connecting, gathering, being, and belonging with each other and in the world, let’s turn toward joy, Black joy, joy that uplifts, embodies and sustains our true inheritance.