Today, we celebrate Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas were the last to be told of their freedom, almost two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Sadly, much of the country remains uneducated of those events in our history and the holiday is mostly celebrated by our brothers and sisters in the Black/African American community. While many states observe June 19th as a holiday, the struggle to dedicate Juneteenth as a national holiday continues. This is emblematic of the fact that 155 years after the last slaves were freed, our nation continues to struggle with systemic racism, oppression, and inequality. We stand with those who believe that this year in particular, it is important to remember those who have been victims of injustice and hate; from the colonial slaves to today’s victims of police brutality; and join the call to action to realize the social justice and basic human dignity that the Emancipation Proclamation envisioned.

colorful quilt made by mercy housing residents
Residents from Mercy Housing’s Mission Creek created this quilt in honor of Juneteenth.

Our communities, partners, and coworkers keep Mercy Housing hopeful and strong despite all the challenges of our times. We witness day in and day out, people of all races and creeds coming together to do what is morally just — feeding the hungry, housing those that have experienced homelessness, and making sure that families have a safe and healthy place to raise their children. Mercy Housing was founded as a call to social justice through words and deeds. We know that only through systemic changes, that are deep and lasting, can we create a better world. This includes reforming our healthcare, education, housing, and criminal justice systems. At Mercy Housing, we are also committed to racial justice through meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion. But that is only the beginning. We hold ourselves and our partners accountable to change. This requires the same fearless persistence that Civil Rights leaders demonstrated in the 1950’s and 60’s, and that Black Lives Matter leaders are demonstrating today.

We hope that everyone not only observes this holiday but also embraces the spirit of this sacred remembrance. Mercy Housing encourages you to think deeply about where you can make change so that we can one day live in a just world free of racism. We will continue to listen to and engage with the people and communities that we serve, and to grow and evolve as we work tirelessly to keep neighborhoods vibrant, healthy, and free from hate. As always, we hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe.