Juneteenth 2020
June 18, 2020

TherWhite Silence Is ViolenceBlack Lives Mattere’s a lot of talk about how ‘this time’ it feels like things are going to change. But for change to endure we cannot simply make promises, allocate funds, and resume business as usual behind a firewall of whiteness. We must first transform ourselves into anti-racists. This work begins with listening, introspection, and self-education. With this new foundation we can come together to rebuild our businesses and communities on the anti-racist model: there is no middle ground. This work will be hard, often painful, and will require a total commitment.

There is no room for doubt or delay. We must restore hope by extinguishing racism right now. Even as we were grieving and protesting systemic racism, another tragic example of unwarranted lethal force applied by a white police officer against a Black American has occurred.

The employee owners of Sun Light & Power are proud that our management will pause operations on Friday, Juneteenth, to show solidarity with Black Americans and commit our company to anti-racism. We intend to reflect, learn, and commemorate this crucial moment in American history by giving Juneteenth the long overdue recognition and respect it deserves. We want to see Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday. Please help make this year’s Juneteenth celebration the largest and most jubilant ever!

CELEBRATE - Click here for a listing of great local and virtual Juneteenth activities in the Bay Area.

SOCIALIZE - Go to Facebook and find your local Black Lives Matter chapter. Follow them, comment, share their messages and find out what you can do to help.

VOLUNTEER – Go to your local Black Lives Matter Chapter, food pantry, Meals on Wheels, community center, voter registry, or a non-profit serving people of color.

CONNECT – Find others with the same ideals. Reach out to friends and family and talk about the importance of equity for all. Keep the conversation going!

SUPPORT - Shop at a Black-owned business in person or online.

GET CREATIVE - Make a sign for your window or yard. If Leta Foster can protest by herself, you can, too!

REACH OUT - Contact your local and state representatives and make sure they are making racial equity a priority.

DONATE - Your local Black Lives Matter Bail Relief organization and other local non-profits that support people of color need your contributions.

EDUCATE YOURSELF – Read a book, for example, “How to be an Antiracist”, by Ibram X. Kendi.

BE SAFE! - Please wear a face covering, keep six feet apart and wash your hands frequently - you need all three!

Here’s an overview of the history behind Juneteenth.

Lincoln Memorial EmancipationThe Atlantic slave trade had already been operating in what would become the United States and environs for nearly a century before captured Africans were first traded in Jamestown, Virginia, in August 1619. Thus, we may add another one hundred years to Black Americans’ long road to freedom. On January 1, 1808, the importation of slaves into the United States became illegal. However, smugglers routinely defied the law due to high demand. Meanwhile, the ownership and trading of slaves and their children born into bondage remained legal within America. When the Civil War began in February 1861, Americans held about four million slaves. Initially, President Abraham Lincoln vowed to end the Civil War whether all, some, or none of the slaves were freed.

Early in the Civil War, the rapid advance of the Confederate Army was decisively checked on September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam, in which more Americans fell in a single day than in any conflict before or since. On September 22, only five days after the victory, President Lincoln announced the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation which gave the Confederate states 100 days to rejoin the Union or their slaves would be declared free. However, the war raged on and when the ultimatum expired on January 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the official Emancipation Proclamation, which still only applied to the eleven Confederate states that were fighting. By signing the Emancipation Proclamation, he stood against many in his own party and finally demanded that the preservation of the United States and the abolition of slavery were one cause.

In January 1865, a Union Congress narrowly achieved the two-thirds majority required to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery outright. In spite of the fact that General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865 and President Lincoln was assassinated only five days later, neither the moral imperative nor these events were sufficient to compel enough states to ratify the 13th Amendment until December 6, 1865. The former Confederate states capitulated only after their wholesale participation in government was threatened.

On June 19, 1865, the Union army finally arrived in Galveston to govern the peace and deliver the news of freedom. For the first time, more than 250,000 slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. In this pivotal moment Juneteenth was born. It has been celebrated in large and small gatherings in much of the United States ever since. In recent years Juneteenth has increasingly come to symbolize the ongoing struggle Black American’s face to realize equal rights, economic equity and justice under the law.

In the struggle against racism, carefully crafted plans based on the facts must be translated into concerted and persistent action to enact change.

What are you planning on Juneteenth?

Seamas Brennan is Marketing Coordinator at Sun Light & Power