Friday, June 19, 2020
Today, we celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth recognizes the date (June 19, 1865) two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when Black slaves in Texas were finally told that slavery had ended. This day has represented joy and pain for our country; joy to celebrate what was the promise of freedom and liberty for Black Americans, and pain as the promise has yet to be fully realized.
Juneteenth sheds light on the importance of persistence, hope, and courage during times of unrest and uncertainty. Every year, it is important to both celebrate Juneteenth and to also reflect on the many inequalities in our communities.
This year, the day has additional significance as our country reckons with-and as more and more people of all races, ethnicities, and walks of life work to address--centuries of oppression, disparate treatment, and negative impacts on people of color.
Sadly and tragically, we can see this both in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland and far too many others, and in the disparate health impacts of COVID-19.
While you find ways to commemorate this holiday - maybe through listening, learning, celebrating, or sharing - whether or not you experience the same in your own life, I encourage you to consider reflecting on and acknowledging our many IDHS customers and our IDHS colleagues and the challenges and burdens they encounter simply by virtue of the color of their skin.
Tonight from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., on Instagram Live, the Census team at IDHS helped organized a Black Census Day evening session, to celebrate Juneteenth and highlight how important it is for the Black community to fill out the 2020 Census. All are welcome to join the event, which will be hosted by Tone Kapone and Sean Mac of WGCI and IHeart Radio. Special guests will include Governor JB Pritzker, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, Chicago-based rap artist Femdot, Rockie Fresh, and East St. Louis' DJ Word is Bond. To RSVP, just visit https://bit.ly/BlackCensusDay.
To find more resources about the history behind Juneteenth, visit the IDHS Juneteenth Resources webpage.
On this date when we celebrate the first (but not the last) important step toward freedom and equality for many Black Americans more than 150 years ago, I thank you for your continued efforts to take the next steps and to promote equity at IDHS and for all Illinoisans.
Grace B. Hou