For 156 years, Juneteenth has stood as a welcomed day for celebration of freedom for African Americans, whose ancestors suffered under the shameful institution of slavery.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared the freedom of enslaved African Americans in confederate states, slavery in America was not officially abolished until January 31, 1865, through the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Juneteenth is important because more than 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in the State of Texas were denied their freedom until June 19, 1865, when federal Union troops arrived to enforce the new law. Sadly, this Juneteenth, 2021 comes during a moment of extraordinary national reckoning as we grieve for the hundreds of Black Americans killed by racial injustice and police brutality.
For us this is a day of reflection and opportunity to look at our individual, organizational and systemic responsibility to confront and combat our state’s long and shameful history of systemic racial injustice targeted at communities of color. We celebrate the incredible attributes our country has gained as a result of numerous contributions of African Americans to our society from education, the sciences, in literature, the political and entertainment arenas as well as food, music, language, and cultural practices.
Project Access NOW’s (PANOW) mission is to improve our communities’ health and well-being by creating access to care, services, and resources for those in need. Across all programs, our clients are largely low-income, from immigrant populations, non-English-speaking, and/or undocumented. And our staff reflect this wonderful diversity.
As we write this message, we note that the State of Oregon, on June 1, and the United States Senate, on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, passed bills to officially recognize Juneteenth as a State and National Holiday, joining all but 3 states of the union.
PANOW will be closed on June 18th, 2021, in honor of this holiday.