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June 19 – 155 Years Later

What Juneteenth Means This Year

It is a small victory that this Juneteenth, the racism that poisons our culture is finally getting some of the attention it deserves from people of all races and in all walks of life. To some this feels like “Groundhog Day” with only the hope and perhaps little confidence that we will actually see change. As Will Smith said several years ago, “It’s not getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”

“Black Lives Matter” every day. People of color face racism every minute of every day in their lives in a way white people cannot understand. We must focus attention on Black Lives now until Black Lives are valued and the systemic problems – especially around police brutality — are addressed.

NOW’s response to inequality has always been about action. So it is very frustrating that today the pandemic makes participation in visible actions on Juneteenth impossible for many. We hope if there a Juneteenth event near you in the next few days, and you can do so, that you will join.

But none of this stops what we must do on this day – to reflect and commit to doing more to stand up and say “No More.”  Perhaps the action that each white person can take is to pledge this Juneteenth that we will never ever again witness an act of racism and not step in as an advocate. It’s not hard, and in NOW we understand what this means, and what it accomplishes. We can start there, and then there’s more.

We all have a great deal to learn and white people can start by listening to our sisters and brothers of color. Together we can accomplish what needs to happen to truly demonstrate that Black Lives are valued all the time, every day – to all of us.

Sandy Bell,
President, Maryland NOW

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