The following statement is from Brianna Brown, Deputy Director of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), in reflection and observance of this year’s Juneteenth:
“Today is particularly bittersweet for Black Texans. Our state is home to the second largest Black population in the country with 3.7 million of us calling Texas home, yet on this Juneteenth we are witnessing our state elected officials try to minimize our existence and reduce our worth through sponsoring extremist measures such as banning critical race theory in classrooms and enacting voter suppression laws.
“It’s a harrowing and infuriating juxtaposition that shows just how urgent the need for racial justice is in this very moment, and how these issues that affect our everyday lives all have throughlines to slavery. The fact is that our entry to this country has reverberated through every generation and institution, from public education to healthcare. There’s not a facet of our lives that has not been touched by the impact of Black people.
“Congruent with our year-round organizing done in pursuit of our collective liberation, TOP held its first observance of Juneteenth as a staff holiday this year, as we commemorated it as #BlackLivesMatter Day, a day for Black joy and resistance.”
Tanuke “Tangi” Smith, a TOP board member from Harris County, added:
“To see Juneteenth elevated to the status of an official national holiday all while right-wing politicians attempt to undermine our rights and humanity in state legislatures across the country is especially jarring.
“A federal holiday is welcome, but we need bold policy solutions, not hollow symbolic gestures. Mass incarceration, lack of healthcare, underfunded public schools, and scarcity of affordable housing are some of our nation’s biggest failures, and all disproportionately impact Black Texans.
“Today, on this day marking the end of chattel slavery in this country, we remain committed to our organizing work to dismantle its sinister legacy that keeps far too many in our communities from living the fulfilling, free lives we all deserve.”
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 statement was sent out June 19, 2021.