Celebrating Juneteenth

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icon-clock June 18, 2021

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, when word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the enslaved, a new and uncertain way of life began. Today, more than 156 years later, African Americans have continued to celebrate, publicly and privately. As we celebrate Juneteenth, we invite you to reflect on the strength and resilience of the enslaved Black folks who have built this country. Today, tomorrow, and everyday we commit to the African proverb “Each One, Teach One” as we serve BIPOC communities and elevate the voices of our young people.

In recognition of Juneteenth, Green City Force builds on our year-round work fostering Black excellence and amplifying BLACK voices in our community. Kyara Grant, one of our very own GCF alum and Service Coordinator wrote a powerful piece, titled “Journey of Blackness,” in honor of this day.

“All that was heard was cries of agony 

As so many were beaten so brutally 

We were bloody, battered, and worn 

But our hearts, minds and souls could never be torn 

You may torture us as much as you wish 

But in the end you will be the one in anguish 

You listen to a merciless sire 

While we listen to our hearts true desire 

We sought for a miracle any-way-how 

But yet it continued to pass us by and we always wondered “how”?

Year after year, decade after decade, you told us, you made us beg for your sorrow 

But now it’s your turn to beg us to let you open your eyes tomorrow

This is a repeating cycle of the blacks being inferior to the whites and no one listening to our voice 

That is because we hid it in underground railroads, back of the buses, jail cells, in our homes and

communities, we only allowed one or two at a time to speak up for thousands even millions of us as if to

say all of us being allowed to state our opinions wasn’t a choice 

We were supposed to carve out a new future not dig up the past 

No one expects success from us because we can’t even make the feeling of safety last 

We are not the people you thought you knew 

We’ve seen the ugliness of this world through and through 

We are finally growing stronger and so close to the top 

Why are you pulling us down yelling “Stop!”? 

Because you underestimated us 

You didn’t think the levels our potential would ever transgress 

I just want times to be as fun and nice as they were when I was a child who had no worries or troubles

But unfortunately that can’t happen unless we pull this country from beneath all the rubble” 

Nosha Gonazalez, Cohort 22 member, shares a few of her favorite personal quotes to commemorate Juneteenth:

Did you know that “red” food is a significant part of celebrating Juneteenth? Red not only represents the blood of the slaves that was shed, but most importantly represents their RESILIENCE. Koala Nuts and Hibiscus were two red food items that would survive the slave trades. Many Black families celebrate Juneteenth by including these items on their dinner tables:

Call to Action:

  • Educate yourself about Juneteenth – Sit down with your families and read a book or watch a documentary about the historical significance of this day
  • Donate your time – GCF recognizes this day as a day of service. Dedicate the day of service to participate in a project in a predominantly Black community. Every Saturday, including on Juneteenth, we are hosting community volunteer days at our Eco-Hub sites at a limited capacity, sign up here to register. This Saturday, we are also hosting a book giveaway in celebration of Juneteenth at all of our sites!
  • Celebrate with a red food item – Include a red food item on your dinner table and discuss the importance of this color with your families.
  • Support Black businesses – Make a contribution to a Black-led / centered organization that is near and dear to your heart.