Part of being a kindness organization requires educating ourselves and sharing what we learn. Acknowledging important historical events and how they still impact today’s world are essential for making positive change in the world. The history of slavery is at the root of many inequities Random Acts tries to tackle. From poverty to housing instability to food insecurity, all have direct lines tracing back to Black people being enslaved in the United States and to other marginalized identities that were enslaved around the world. It is important to reflect on this history and to assess what structures in our society are remnants of slavery. That is why here at Random Acts, we observe Juneteenth as an organization-wide day away from work to support anti-racism.
As a global organization, we recognize that slavery was an international issue. There is also an International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition observed on August 23. This date was chosen because of the uprising on the island of Santo Domingo (now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that triggered events directly leading to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. The purpose of this day is to encourage memories of this history so that no one forgets the tragedies of what happened to enslaved peoples. Both days acknowledge that slavery had dehumanized people for centuries.
What Is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is observed on June 19th every year. It commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States when a Union general rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to announce the end of the Civil War as well as the freeing of the slaves. Juneteenth National Independence Day was made a federal holiday in the United States on June 17, 2021.
Black people in the United States continue to face explicit and subtle racism, structures built to keep them out, and legislation that creates more inequality in all aspects of their lives, but while Juneteenth did not fix everything, it is a celebration of freedom. By recognizing this, we can spark important conversations about an essential part of our histories and what work we still must do.
How to Observe
- Learn about Juneteenth and the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, as well as other remembrance days, and share your newly acquired knowledge. Come together with friends and family to discuss what anti-racism means and how you can become actively anti-racist.
- Host a watch party for 13th (Netflix) or Just Mercy (Amazon). Discuss the main themes and how you can make a difference locally.
- Reflect on which structures still exist as remnants of slavery.
- Consider how you can contribute to support Black people on their journey to continued liberation. Donate, volunteer, and amplify Black voices.
- Celebrate Black culture as a form of appreciation (not appropriation).
- Read and celebrate Black authors.
- Start conversations at home, with friends, and at your job about how you will be anti-racist and combat structural racism, even when it is implicit.
Remember that kindness has a spine. We will continue to fight against injustices in the world, and we hope you will join us this Juneteenth. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We cannot be silent about the horrors of the past. We must continue to talk about it and improve our systems to benefit all its people.