Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last. - Martin Luther King Jr. 1963
On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were finally informed that they were free, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Texas was the last state in the country to receive word of the proclamation and make good on its promise. The freedom declaration sparked celebration among the formally enlsaved and the local holiday of Juneteenth was born.
Juneteenth is a reminder that none of us are free until all of us are free and that our country’s journey toward democracy and freedom for all continues.
Today, Juneteenth, is our newest federal holiday. It celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. It lifts the struggles and resilience of the African American community in overcoming enslavement and recognizes a vital step in forming our country and our common human dignity. Juneteenth is a reminder that none of us are free until all of us are free and that our country’s journey toward democracy and freedom for all continues.
For FCNL, Juneteenth is also a time to reflect on our commitments to embody anti-racism, anti-bias, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (AJEDI) in all that we do as we continue our journey in this work. FCNL’s AJEDI Statement includes commitments to:
- Seek ongoing transformation as we work to bring into being the world we seek.
- Embody the belief in the inherent dignity and equal worth of each person and claim the identities and cultural legacies that shape us.
- Incorporate the voices and visions of people from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences, particularly those who have been historically discriminated against or oppressed. Welcome, value, and respect the needs, perspectives, and contributions of all people who hold a stake in FCNL’s work and witness.
- Build an organization that reflects and includes the diversity of the United States.
- Treat anti-racism, anti-bias, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion as central pillars of our work. Confront racism and discrimination—in the FCNL community and systems as well as in laws and policies—with courage and determination.
- Develop clear, ambitious, and meaningful goals, establish systems for reporting and responding to instances of harm, and identify procedures for measuring progress.
These commitments offer clear and powerful guidance for our staff and governors, and we continue to deepen our efforts to turn our words into action. Confronting racism and building a more just and equitable world is ongoing work that requires reckoning with our country’s past and transforming our future.
This Juneteenth, and every month, we at FCNL ask ourselves:
Confronting racism and building a more just and equitable world is ongoing work that requires reckoning with our country’s past and transforming our future.
- Where have we identified and/or addressed white supremacy culture and other forms of oppression in our work?
- How have we proactively integrated anti-racism/anti-bias/justice practices into our work? How can we?
- How have we invited and valued the perspectives and contributions of diverse people who hold a stake in our work, particularly those most directly affected by our work? How can we?
- How have we sought transformation to support our AJEDI goals? How can we?
Recently these commitments and queries have led to an all-staff consultation about recognizing and addressing white supremacy culture and an article in Friends Journal by Alicia McBride, senior director of Quaker leadership, and Lauren Brownlee, associate general secretary for community and culture, about the power of Quaker principles and practices to address white supremacy culture.
At FCNL, we commit to the essential work of uprooting racism within ourselves, our community, and our country. We celebrate the resilience of all those who have lived the realities of injustice and struggled to bring about a more just and peaceful democracy. We persist with others to build a country and world where we can all indeed be free at last.