With Juneteenth coming up, it’s important to recognize its history, implications, and the work we must continue to do in the fight for equity for the Black community.
On January 1, 1863, also known as “Freedom’s Eve,” free and enslaved African Americans congregated together across the country to wait for the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been put into effect. The news came that midnight and, legally, everyone enslaved in Confederate states were declared free. (nmaahc.si.edu.)
However, while the Emancipation Proclamation was effective as of 1863, enslaved African Americans were not free until June 19, 1865. 2,000 Union troops came to Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that, by executive decree, over 250,000 enslaved Black people were to be freed, marking the period of Reconstruction. (Id.)
Created in 1997 by Ben Haith, and refined in 2000 by Lisa Jeanne Graf, the Juneteenth flag's red, white, and blue colors symbolize that everyone once enslaved, and their descendants, was free under the law. The star represents Texas, the Lone Star State; the burst is to signify a new beginning for Black Americans; and the arc is representative of a new horizon. (The Boston Globe.)
Fast forward to 2020 when, in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black Americans, it is evident that we have more work to do. Black Americans are at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, and more (Pfizer), and have suffered disproportionately from the Covid-19 pandemic. Black children are more likely to fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline as a result of receiving harsher punishments, suspensions, and expulsions, as well as school-related arrests. (ACLU.) And Black women are paid, on average, just 63 cents (with the lowest figure being 48 cents) for every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man is paid. (NationalPartnership.org.)
Just yesterday, on June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation declaring Juneteenth a Federal holiday. We must use this as a catalyst to commit to the work necessary to ensure racial equity among everyone in this country: a process both urgent and ongoing.
And a great starting point, on an individual level, is to uplift Black voices and support Black owned businesses, not just on Juneteenth, but every day.
If you’re located in Chicago, here is a non-comprehensive list of Black owned restaurants and stores to check out:
Restaurants: additionally, EatOkra is an app that connects you with Black owned restaurants near you.
- Peach’s Restaurant: 4652 South King Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60653
- Doughboys: 352 East 71st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60619
- The Soul Shack: 1368 East 53rd Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615
- Flavors Southern Cooking: 5721 West Division Street, Chicago, Illinois 60651
- J Spice: 135 North Kedzie, Chicago, Illinois 60612
- Batter & Berries: 2748 North Lincoln Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60614
- Demera: 4801 North Broadway Street, Chicago, Illinois 60640
- Life’s Sweet Inc.: 6621 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60626
- Schweet Cheesecake: 5248 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60651
- Kilwins Chicago - Hyde Park: 5226 South Harper Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615
- Bettye O Day Spa: 1424 East 53rd Street, #LL, Chicago, Illinois 60615,
- Divinity7: 150 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, Illinois 60605
- Sir & Madame: 5225 South Harper Court, Chicago, Illinois 60615
- The Silver Room: 1506 East 53rd Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615
- Leaders1354: 1152 West Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60607
- Eb & Flow: 2125 West North Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60622
- Semicolon Bookstore: 515 North Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois 60642
- An Orange Moon: 2418 West North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647
- Recycled Modern: 1152 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60614
- Love Peridot: 1114 South Delano Court West, Chicago, Illinois 60605
- Fat Tiger Works: 836 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60642
And if you're not located in Chicago, below are some general resources to continue uplifting the Black community and educating ourselves on the racial inequities in America:
Organizations to consider supporting:
Read stories from Black owned community newspapers that the mainstream media misses:
A great Juneteenth reading list:
Podcast on Juneteenth:
At HHPLIFT, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to putting in the work to ensure that everyone’s voice carries an equal weight, regardless of race.
Until next time,
The HHPLIFT team
For more information, please contact info@HHPLIFT.com