Juneteenth Freedom Day

June 19, 2020

It was 155 years ago on June 19, 1865, that the emancipation of slaves and an ‘end to slavery’ was declared in Texas. Juneteenth marks and celebrates this historic event, but the systematic racism and oppression of Black and Brown people across our country carries on to this day.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to people who had been enslaved and was “supposed" to bring equality: the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to public education, the right to public facilities, and the right to government services. However, the struggle to achieve full equality and guaranteed civil rights for all in our communities continues well into the 21st century.

People of color continue to be targeted and killed by law enforcement across our country every single day. Black families have far less access to living wages, affordable housing, public services, social safety net programs, and even clean water than white families. A disproportionate number of Black communities live near refineries, railroads, highways and other hazardous and polluted areas, making them more vulnerable to health problems. At the same time, they are less likely to have access to healthcare or medical facilities and are therefore disproportionally prone to dying from preventable illnesses, including COVID-19. Black and Brown LGBTQ people – particularly Black trans women – experience the most discrimination and brutality in the criminal justice system, and are assaulted and murdered at alarming rates across the country (Human Rights Campaign report: https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-...).

In California, Black people represent 27% of the incarcerated population while they constitute only 6% of the state population according to the 2010 census, an almost five-fold over-representation (https://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/2010percent/CA_Blacks_2010.html). The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in the United States in 1865, states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This amendment created a vicious and effective loophole allowing slavery to continue and be legally accepted to this day as a form of criminal punishment. While Black people disproportionately fill the country’s growing for-profit prisons, they have been the enslaved work force for billion-dollar multinational corporations for decades.

Black and Brown communities are still the most disenfranchised when it comes to voting in public elections and face perpetual barriers and racial discrimination that prevent them from fully participating in the democratic process. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - one hundred years after Juneteenth - have also failed our Black and Brown communities.

This June 19, 2020, we must acknowledge and speak of our country's appalling past and accept that the only way forward is through facing not only the past but the painful realities of today. The U.S. Green Party's Platform calls for full and complete reparations to the African-American community of this nation for the past four hundred plus years of genocide, slavery, land-loss, and destruction of original identity. (https://www.gp.org/social_justice_2016/#sjCivilRights)

Together, we can bring light to the interconnectedness of the racial, gender, social, economic and environmental injustices that our communities - especially the working-class Black and Brown communities - face in their daily lives.

Injustice is the intersection of all movements, and it is the engine of the capitalistic, racist, and exploitative economic system that we live in. The struggle for justice must and will continue!


Please view and share these references:

- Juneteenth Video by Roots - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu6ntwHws5g&feature=youtu.be

- The New Jim Crow book by Michelle Alexander - https://newjimcrow.com/about

- Jim Crow of the North, the Minnesota Experience - Free full-length Documentary - https://youtu.be/XWQfDbbQv9E

- From Slavery to George Floyd: The racist history of U.S. policing Khalil Gibran Muhammad on Democracy Now - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1vr4eg37L0&feature=youtu.be

- 13th by Ava DuVernay - Full feature documentary on the 13th Amendment - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8&feature=youtu.be

- Mass Incarceration Visualized, an animated interview with Bruce Western - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u51_pzax4M0&feature=youtu.be