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Juneteenth: A Day of Reflection

Recent events, the killing of Black people by police, the pandemic and white people calling the police on Black people for living, have given new urgency to finally ending the systemic oppression Black people have endured for more than 400 years. The Texas Organizing Project today is celebrating Juneteenth by continuing our fight for Black lives, liberation and power.

“For more than ten years, TOP has fought to change the power dynamics of our cities, counties, state and country so that Black and Latino people have the power and representation we deserve,” said Ray Brackens, a TOP leader from Harris County. “Mass incarceration, lack of health insurance, poverty jobs, underfunded schools, climate change and lack of affordable housing are some of Texas’ biggest failures, and all these issues disproportionately impact people of color. Today, we’re celebrating the end of slavery in this country, and remain committed to dismantling its legacy that keeps Black Americans from living fully and freely, and keeps the American Dream inaccessible to us.”

The new found attention on Juneteenth has even prompted Texas Sen. John Cornyn to say he will introduce a bill that will make this day a national holiday.

“Juneteenth should be a national holiday to reflect on where we’ve been and how much further we have to go to achieve racial equity,” said Michael Roberts, TOP leader from Bexar County. “The gesture from Sen. Cornyn seems hollow and paternalistic when he hasn’t done anything to actually improve the lives of Black people in Texas. We don’t need empty gestures from our senator. We need policies that will defund the police, bring health care to our communities and expand affordable housing.”

So today we will celebrate the end of slavery, but we know we’re not completely free until Black people can live without fear that they’ll get police called on them for no reason other than their skin color and that interaction with police could end with unjustifiable use of force; until Black people get paid equally and have what they need to thrive; until Black people are fairly represented at the tables of power in government and the private sector; until being Black is no longer considered a threat and our existence is finally accepted and valued.

Next week, we’re going to push for police accountability in Houston. In Dallas, we’re calling on the police chief to resign. In San Antonio, we’ve bailed out dozens of people. The fight for liberation and equity has to be fought on many fronts. We are calling on our leaders and elected officials to reimagine public safety, invest in community-led alternatives and demand concrete legislative actions to win real liberation for our sisters and brothers across Texas.

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This press release was sent out June 19, 2020.