This weekend we celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday marking the June 19, 1865 date when the last Black Americans who were enslaved in Galveston, Texas were finally informed that they had been granted freedom some two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation on January 1, 1863, many African American people did not reap the benefits until years later.
As we recognize this milestone, it brings to mind how progress is often haphazard and slow to reach all who need support and celebration. This is not only true for the nation as it celebrates Juneteenth, but also true here in our area. The most recent Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by NMC and our partners in health and human services found that BIPOC people as well as those who are transportation insecure, economically challenged, youth and those experiencing isolation are more likely to experience health challenges related to mental health, substance use disorder and lack access to local health care services.
We have much work to do, and we can begin by reflecting on our understanding of the history of our world, and learning about the experiences of others. If you’d like to join a local celebration, visit https://www.stalbansvt.com/juneteenth for details on a gathering in St. Albans City. There you’ll also find resources to learn about Juneteenth aimed at youth, adults, and educators.