Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas were notified by the arrival of some 2,000 Union troops that they, along with the more than 250,000 other enslaved black people in the state, were free by President Lincoln’s executive decree. The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation.
In time, recounting the memories of that great day of celebration, June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants of the men and women who first heard the words that their bondage was over.
We can only imagine the joy of the individuals who received that long-awaited news, but we also imagine that it came with uncertainty and trepidation of what was next.
As we celebrate Juneteenth 2020, our country once again is standing at the precipice of a critically important moment in American history. There is a new feeling of uncertainty and trepidation. While June 19, 1865, brought great promise, unfortunately, much of that promise has fallen short of the ideals we hold as Americans. However, with this uncertainty, there is great hope that we are finally prepared to face the task of dismantling the institutional racism that prevents us all from achieving our potential as individuals, as a people, and as a country.
Today is a time to reflect back on that day in Texas when a tremendous step was taken to correct the wrong that started on our soil back in 1619 when the first slave was brought to the shores of our future nation. In this moment, we also hope that Juneteenth 2020 will be a rebirth of the promise made 155 years ago and we can forge a new path truly as one.
This must be the time.
Second Harvest honors Juneteenth and its power to show the value of deep hope and urgent action in uncertain times. As we have shared previously, our work of justice begins with food justice – ensuring all people have access to nutritious food so that they can achieve their self-determined potential. Simply said, everyone deserves to eat and everyone should truly be free.