I’ve been celebrating Juneteenth for as long as I can remember. This day is not just a time to drink strawberry soda and eat red velvet cake. It is a time to reflect on freedom and justice. Juneteenth marks a date of major significance in American history and shows us that freedom and racial equality have always been a hard-fought battle for Black Americans—and that battle continues to this day.
In honor of Juneteenth, Moms Clean Air Force has recommitted to the principles of equity, equality, and justice. This includes the right for racial justice, which goes hand in hand with environmental justice.
I worked with Dr. Tonya Calhoun, Moms Clean Air Force’s former National Field Manager and the current Senior Manager for Community Engagement at the Environmental Defense Fund, to bring together a diverse group of voices to share what Juneteenth means to them.
Here are some quotes from the speakers:
“For me, Juneteenth is a reminder of the complexities that come with freedom in America. Just because we say we believe in freedom, doesn’t mean that everyone experiences that on the same level… I realize some of these conversations come with complexities that can be a bit uncomfortable, but I think the better we understand freedom, the better we can build it and protect it.”
– Alzay Calhoun
“I’m grateful that Juneteenth is now a national holiday and I will continue to reflect on the strength and endurance of our people, the recognition of Black voices, and ability to come together and progress towards equal opportunities for all. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of all people, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.”
– Dr. Tonya Calhoun
“For my family, Juneteenth … was about the appreciation of the progress that we have made today as a people, but also acknowledging the resilience and perseverance it took for our ancestors to get us to where we are today.”
– Kari Traylor
“It’s not just an African American holiday. It’s also an American one. One that should be celebrated by all Americans because it represents how America got one step closer to upholding the values it was built on.”
– Rayne B.