I first heard of Juneteenth in my seventh-grade Texas History class.  The story of enslaved African American Texans who had not become aware of their freedom until June 19, 1865--- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  Even at thirteen, I knew that keeping freed people captive was wrong.

And so, we pause to remember when all Americans became aware of their freedom and the day the institution of slavery lost its final grip on this nation.  But the fight for liberty is not over.  As we celebrate Juneteenth, we recognize the significance of that day and acknowledge that the effects of slavery still reverberate across our nation.   Battlefronts remain in our communities.

A healthy community is a place where all people are welcomed, celebrated, and affirmed.   Today, all Americans are positionally free, but many still struggle to find places that accept their belonging.  The fight for supportive communities for all people is why the YMCA anchors its work at the achievement, relationship, and belonging level.   Rooted in the principle of oneness, we put “Christian principles into practice, through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body FOR ALL”; working to honor and respect the gifts, talents, and expressions of all people.

I encourage you to celebrate Juneteenth with your family, friends, and community:

  • Attend a local Juneteenth celebration,
  • Join a living UNDIVIDED learning cohort that starts in July, and/or
  • Take time for quiet contemplation— think of what it must have been like to discover that the dream of freedom had become a reality.

There are many ways to lean in but know that becoming a messenger of good news and working to mend the damage slavery has left on our nation requires intentionality.  Roll up your sleeves, take your place, and ….

Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
We can be free and we can sing, let freedom ring

To learn more about Juneteenth and ways you can help us build a better community for all, please contact Jesiah Brock at jbrock@myy.org.

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati