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Juneteenth Message from BFS Student Leaders

June 19, 2020

Please see the message below from BFS student leaders:

Hello Everyone,

We hope this email finds you well. In the past few weeks, the BFS Youth Action Project, Student Task Force for Community Action, iRunWithMaud Interns, and Panthers Supreme have come together to create a student coalition centered around Equity, Action, and Justice. We felt it was important to reach out to the community today regarding Juneteenth and the importance of this holiday. First, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the history of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved Africans were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society. (All of this information is provided by juneteenth.com).

Additionally, here are a few resources as well as events taking place today that you all may be interested in:

Black-Owned Businesses to support:

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/black-owned-businesses-support-shop.html

Videos:

What is Juneteenth – and should it be a federal holiday in the US?

This Is Why Juneteenth Is Important for America

Events:

June 19 @ 11AM: JustLeadershipUSA Juneteenth Virtual Rally In partnership with the Jails Action Coalition and Rise & Resist. We know that too many of our people are still not free. On the anniversary of Juneteenth, we call on elected leaders to depopulate, defund, and demolish jails and prisons, and invest in repairing the harms of centuries of systemic racial oppression. Join on Facebook Live or Zoom! *Event has passed but we encourage you to follow the work of JustLeadershipUSA.

June 19 @ 12-1:30PM: IntegrateNYC Virtual Block Party Join the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, parents, students and educators for a Juneteenth Virtual Block Party to uplift Black Joy & Resistance while we continue to apply pressure to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson to #DefundNYPD, implement #PoliceFreeSchools and Culturally Responsive Education through a just and moral budget for our children. #DefundNYPD #PoliceFreeSchools #Education4Liberation *Event has passed but we encourage you to follow the work of IntegrateNYC.

June 19 @ 5PM: Urban Assembly Institute Teach-In (The BFS community is invited to this event organized by UAI, a neighboring public school): We planned this teach-in because it was clear that our school community needed something uplifting and empowering but that responded to the discussions around police brutality. We also wanted to do something where the community could take action. COVID has greatly impacted our community and many in our community are not yet going out of their homes and thus can’t participate in protests. The evening will start with a few words from Khalil Gibran Mohammed from Harvard Kennedy School to connect the dots between Juneteenth and our present national moment. We will then have a short “lesson” and talk about ways of taking action to make Juneteenth a national/state/city holiday.

We feel that it is important to recognize Juneteenth within our community seeing as it has such a strong impact on so many of us. Hopefully, you all find ways to celebrate and get involved. Happy Juneteenth!

 In Friendship,

Youth Action Project, Student Task Force for Community Action, iRunWithMaud Interns, and Panthers Supreme