Friday, June 19, marks a significant day in history: Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is used as the marker because slaves, depending on where you lived and how you were treated, were informed throughout many days thereafter; so, for some the day of freedom was one of many dates. All of these dates are commemorated as a shared Juneteenth.
“To pause and reflect on the significance of this day – and its inherent connection to the YWCA Dayton mission of eliminating racism and empowering women – we are adding Juneteenth to our list of official agency holidays. Our administrative offices will be closed on this day and we will follow holiday policies regarding staff scheduling and holiday pay,” said Shannon Isom, president and CEO.
“We think this day is important to honor — right now. Staff who can have been asked to reschedule their calendars to take the time to honor this. For those of our team who will continue to work and care for our clients and residents, we say, as always, thank you. There are many unnamed who have worked on our behalf. We encourage all to take a moment during the day and give a moment of silence or breath for them.”
To honor Juneteenth, use some of the ideas and examples below.
For white allies:
- Choose one of these anti-racist books to read.
- Sign up for YWCA Dayton’s 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge, starting June 19.
- Advocate for legislation that addresses racial equity by signing up for the YWCA Action Center and taking action on three bills.
- Post on social media about #Juneteenth and tag @ywcadayton.
For Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC):
- Breathe! Take a bath, bake, read a magazine — do whatever feels restorative to you. Let your white colleagues bear the burden of tackling racial injustice today.
- Explore YWCA of Greater Cleveland’s self-care kits.
- Read this article to better understand the effects daily experiences of racism can have on your mental health and the importance of self-care.
- Listen to this poem by spoken word artist Breanna McGowan titled “Black Woman”.
- Join a virtual Juneteenth celebration!
“This work is difficult, and it takes us all; but it also requires moments of pause, to regroup and start anew, renewed,” Isom said.