Written by Andrea Smith
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity.
Many Americans have fought and continue to fight for equal rights as the plague of discrimination continues to overtake our country and their day of celebration is no different. While Juneteenth was celebrated as early as 1866, it wasn’t until 2021 that Congress passed the bill to officially declare the day a federal holiday in the United States. Originally, the holiday was celebrated through prayer meetings and spiritual songs. Local gatherings would take place where everyone would wear new, bright clothing to celebrate their freedom and mark the independence of something new. Today, Juneteenth is celebrated across the nation through street fairs, parades, and even concerts.
Juneteenth and Environmental Justice
We celebrate Juneteenth as the shift from fighting for freedom of slavery to fighting for freedom for all Black people. The ties between racial and environmental discrimination have always been connected and continue to demand change for environmental justice. We all see the effects of climate change in our own way, but the climate crisis is a toxic situation that continues to plague the Black community. Many Black neighborhoods continue to report the placement of hazardous waste sites and pollution in their own backyard leading to detrimental health problems. Black families continue to face challenges in lack of resources and proximity to harmful facilities.
All Americans have the right to their own freedom and their connection to our planet. Mother Nature knows no bounds, and is to be enjoyed by all who put two feet on the ground to make it a better place. This Juneteenth, we celebrate and recognize those who came before us to fight for our right to live and we use this opportunity to motivate future generations to continue the battle. There is always work to be done and there is still change to be made. To all of those who celebrate and observe, TGP wishes you a Happy Juneteenth and encourages you to take action in your own community to leverage this history in your fight for climate justice. Please refer to additional resources regarding climate justice here.
TGP celebrates diversity and is an equal opportunity organization. We are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and seek stories from members of underrepresented groups, as well as those who share this commitment. For collaboration, please reach out to our team at [email protected].