Commemorating Juneteenth with a Renewed Call to Action - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Commemorating Juneteenth with a Renewed Call to Action

June 17, 2022

We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.

–Amanda Gorman

Health & Medicine joins fellow Illinoisans and all Americans to mark June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. It was on this day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to direct the liberation of all enslaved peoples.

On June 19, 2021, the state of Illinois officially declared Juneteenth a holiday.

In the year that has followed, the United States has continued to witness a spate of racially motivated violence, including the culminating mass slaughter of Black Americans at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14.

Both individual and collective experiences of racism and discrimination are forms of trauma that impact health and wellbeing.

Juneteenth provides an opportunity for all Americans to recognize and seek to overcome the collective trauma of slavery and the systemic oppression of marginalized communities throughout the history of the United States up and through the present day.

Health & Medicine is committed to health equity for all people. We recognize that the trauma of histories steeped in racism and slavery negatively impacts an individual’s access to care and a full life. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how systemic racism negatively impacts the health and well-being of Black and Brown Americans, reducing life spans and causing stark health divides.

Systemic racism is a multifaceted issue, affecting social service systems from policing to education to health care.

Juneteenth provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress Americans have made since overcoming slavery—and the work that remains to vanquish its lingering effects.

Here are resources for more information and action items this Juneteenth: