The Solar Industry Commemorates Juneteenth
Friday, Jun 18 2021
Yesterday President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth an official federal holiday, following a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 415-14 vote in the House. It’s the first new federal holiday created since MLK Day in 1983, and as such, it is a big and important step thanks to the millions of grassroots advocates who have pushed our political leaders for change over the last year and beyond.
However, as many have pointed out on social media, this isn’t a simple victory, and it’s important to acknowledge the work we have left to do. The arc of the moral universe is long, and it’s our responsibility to help bend it towards justice.
When then-President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, that led to the freedom of Black slaves, it still took time, effort, and even Union Army enforcement, particularly in the South where many slave owners refused to acknowledge that hard-fought freedom. The announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger in Texas on June 19th enforced the proclamation that freedom from slavery was in fact, the law of the land. It wasn’t until the first anniversary of that statement in 1865 that the observance of June 19th became a holiday commemorating African American Emancipation Day.
Historically, Juneteenth has been an under-recognized day in American history and in our yearly national holiday celebrations. Last year, following the death of George Floyd and coupled with a global pandemic, the largest Juneteenth observation was held in the U.S. and the movement towards that recognition has been embraced by many Fortune 500 brands. While Juneteenth is now an official holiday, this momentum needs to continue in order to combat and hopefully prevent racist acts and hate crimes that are still prevalent in the United States.
There are many ways you can observe Juneteenth and acknowledge its importance in American history. Here are a few ideas:
- Alongside friends and family, participate in a Juneteenth event:
- Juneteenth Freedom Festival: an on-line virtual program that will include reflection panels, a reception, career/job fair, and a musical celebration. Register here to celebrate along with many across the U.S.!
- Similarly, many major cities have lined up in-person, COVID-safe events to extend the recognition and awareness of Juneteenth to their local communities and visitors: Washington D.C., Miami, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Sacramento, CA, Oakland, CA, New York, NY, Austin, TX and Portland, OR.
- Have a group history lesson, researching the events surrounding Juneteenth and how you can support the national holiday effort.
- View past streaming episodes or movies about black history such as Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, Watchmen, Miss Juneteenth, blackish (the 4th season opener “Juneteenth”), Selma, Hidden Figures, and many others.
- Spend your Friday night watching Juneteenth: Together We Triumph – A ‘Soul of a Nation’ Special Event, a special event on ABC, which will feature an interview with President Barack Obama on race and resilience, and his book A Promised Land.
- Buy from Black-owned businesses in person or virtually on Etsy. Research vendors and brands to identify if they also support Juneteenth.
- Read a book on Black history or Juneteenth.
- Participate in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Virtual Events and check out their extensive reading list.
Whatever you do, reach out to your friends and family and share what you’ve learned in your effort to celebrate and better understand Juneteenth.