Celebrating Freedom: A Deeper Look at Juneteenth

Adrianna Mena
June 19, 2024

Today, we join the nation in commemorating Juneteenth, a day of remembrance, celebration, and a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, short for "June Nineteenth," marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, bringing the long-awaited news that the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved people were free. This momentous occasion arrived two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, highlighting the delayed and uneven implementation of freedom across the nation.

Why It Matters

Juneteenth is a celebration of resilience, strength, and the enduring spirit of the Black community. It's a time to honor ancestors who fought for freedom, acknowledge the progress made, and recommit to the work that still lies ahead.

Honoring the Legacy, Building a Brighter Future Together

Juneteenth is a time to reflect on past struggles and triumphs and renew our commitment to creating a more equitable future. At Step Up, we honor the legacy of those who fought for freedom by actively working to dismantle systemic barriers and empower Black communities.

From our very first session at the Urban League of Greater Madison to our current offices in their groundbreaking Black Business Hub, we have been both supported by and a supporter of Black-led initiatives. Our longstanding partnership with the Foundation for Black Women's Wellness is a testament to our dedication to uplifting and empowering the Black community. We proudly support their vital work in championing the health and well-being of Black women and children through initiatives such as Black Women's Wellness Day, Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance, and Saving Our Babies.

We understand that true progress is built on collaboration, trust, and a shared vision for a more just society. By supporting initiatives that address health disparities, promote economic empowerment, and celebrate Black culture, we strive to create a brighter future for all. 

How You Can Celebrate and Support

  • Learn: Educate yourself on Juneteenth's rich history and continuous fight for racial justice and equality. Read books like "Juneteenth" by Ralph Ellison or "On Juneteenth" by Annette Gordon-Reed, watch documentaries like "13th" on Netflix, and attend local history seminars or online webinars.
  • Support: Show solidarity by patronizing Black-owned businesses such as local restaurants, boutiques, and online stores like Etsy shops run by Black artisans. Donate to organizations that uplift Black communities, such as the NAACP, Color of Change, or local nonprofits. Amplify Black voices by sharing content from Black creators on social media and recommending their work to your network.
  • Engage: Actively participate in Juneteenth events and celebrations in your community. Attend parades, festivals, and educational forums. Consider giving employees the day off to join in and honor this important day together. Volunteer your time at local events or support organizations hosting these celebrations.
  • Reflect: Take a moment to contemplate the lasting impact of slavery and systemic racism. Engage in conversations about racial issues with friends and family. Participate in or host discussion groups and workshops on racial justice. Think about actionable steps you can take, such as advocating for policy changes, supporting diversity initiatives at your workplace, or mentoring individuals from underrepresented communities.

Let's Celebrate Freedom Together

As we celebrate Juneteenth, let's embrace our shared role in advancing justice and equity. By honoring the past and engaging with the present, we commit to a future where equality truly exists for everyone.

Learn more and get involved: