Valley of the Sun United Way understands that inequities are deeply ingrained and systemically upheld. Our work is generational, and no lasting change happens overnight. As an organization, we remain committed to digging deep, confronting issues with honesty and taking the difficult steps every day to address the issues important to this community. We stand with community members and partner with other organizations calling for systemic change to address racial disparities in our community and across our nation.
Juneteenth marks the day that the last remaining Black slaves in the United States found out they were free. It happened in Galveston, Texas in 1865, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Texas was the last state to recognize the proclamation.
A renewed recognition of Juneteenth came to the forefront after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many other Black Americans in 2020. Their deaths sparked an outpouring of support and activism to protect and defend diversity and inclusion in our country.
While Black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth for decades, President Joe Biden officially made it a federal holiday in 2021. It was the government’s first new holiday since approving Martin Luther King Jr. Day In 1983.
Phoenix approved Juneteenth as an official city holiday on February 2, 2022. Most city and federal employees will have it as a paid day off. Other businesses, including Valley of the Sun United Way, also close their offices to observe the holiday.
There are several ways families can observe and celebrate Juneteenth. Here are a few ideas:
→ Find a local celebration in our community and attend.
→ Visit the various Black History Murals around our city.
→ Support our local businesses. Eat at a Black-owned restaurant or buy items from Black-owned businesses.
→ Read books written by Black authors. Changing Hands Bookstore has a list of suggestions.
→ Watch films on race, inequality and emancipation.
→ You can also donate to local organizations that support our Black community.
Valley of the Sun United Way knows that diversity is what makes our community stronger. We are committed to creating a more inclusive future for Black Americans and their families. We will lead by example, sharing best practices, learnings, as well as remaining open to listening and learning from others. It takes more than compassion. It takes intentional, ongoing effort and action.
Send us an email and let us know what changes you would like to see in our community: firstname.lastname@example.org