By John Charles McAllister-Ashley, Program Coordinator, Institute Office of Anti-Racism & Racial Equity Washington, DC
As an African American male from the South, Juneteenth holds profound significance for me. It represents a celebration of freedom, resilience, and the enduring spirit of African Americans throughout U.S. history.
As a national holiday, Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the struggle for racial equality and the continuously frustrating pursuit of justice. It’s a time to honor the sacrifices of my ancestors, reflect on the challenges faced, and acknowledge achievements. Like most African Americans, my ancestors fought in wars for a country that refused to fight for us. So, for me, Juneteenth represents a step by the federal government to atone for its mistreatment of my people. It also serves to engage in meaningful community celebrations that promote unity and empowerment.
In the wise words of civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody is free.” This celebration seeks to lessen the weight of our historical struggle, because it embodies a sense of hope for our children’s future.
For the Sisters of Mercy, it’s the perfect opportunity to educate other cultures, raise awareness, and actively contribute to the ongoing fight against racial injustice and inequality.