Liberty and Justice: Solar Industry Commemorates Juneteenth
Sunday, Jun 19 2022
Today we celebrate Juneteenth, the anniversary of the freedom of Black Americans. While the United States declared that “all men are created equal” in 1776, Black Americans were enslaved until 1865 when news of emancipation spread across the nation and states not impacted by the Emancipation Proclamation ratified the 13th amendment. Today, 157 years later, Black Americans continue to face injustice, and in many ways, their liberty remains incomplete. Juneteenth is a day of celebration, a day to acknowledge progress, and it is also an opportunity to call attention to disparities and commit to building a more equitable and inclusive future.
This year marks a particularly important time for reflection as the country reels from a series of hate crimes and racist acts, including the racially motivated attack in Buffalo last month. According to FBI data from 2020, more than half of all hate crimes based on race and ethnicity were committed against Black Americans. Those 2,871 incidents represent a 49% increase from 2019.
Today also marks the second federally recognized Juneteenth celebration, following President Biden’s declaration of June 19 as a federal holiday last year. This holiday is still new for many Americans, and although nationwide observation is a significant victory, these recent events are clear evidence that work remains to support and recognize the experiences of Black Americans.
As we strive to promote inclusivity, this Juneteenth celebration is an excellent opportunity to become familiar with how effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws continue to negatively impact communities across the country. Likewise, this holiday is a perfect time to review what it means to be an ally and stand up for justice and inclusivity.
As we build the clean energy economy, SEIA is committed advancing equity and racial justice through our work, including creating resources and tools for our members. For example, SEIA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Certification Program has enabled dozens of companies to implement DEIJ best practices, ensuring that employees of all backgrounds feel supported and welcomed and that solar businesses appropriately serve diverse customer bases.
Additionally, SEIA’s Diverse Suppliers Database allows anyone to locate and connect with over 300 diverse-owned clean energy businesses across the country. As solar deployment accelerates, opportunities in the clean energy economy must be accessible for all, with a diverse range of stakeholders involved in all stages of the process.
While you celebrate and learn this Juneteenth, take time to reflect on the systemic challenges facing the Black community and the work we must do to ensure justice for all Americans.