AWSP will close this Friday, June 18th, in recognition of Juneteenth (June 19th). Starting in 2022, Washington state will recognize June 19th as an official state holiday. Although this recognition as a state holiday is over 150 years overdue, AWSP will start recognizing it this year.
Still not sure what Juneteenth is? You can most likely thank your public school experience for not recognizing the plight of Black Americans in many history lessons, and especially that of June 19th. Many of us (myself included) thought with the wave of President Lincoln's pen on the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slavery was ended throughout the land. It wasn't. Almost two years later on June 19th, 1865, the last group of enslaved Black Americans was freed by Union troops in Galvaston Bay, Texas. The army announced that by executive decree, more than 250,000 Black Americans were now free. That's why many people see June 19th as a more significant independence day in our country.
We all know that June 19th, 1865, did not bring an end to racial discrimination and inequality, and the events of this past year further highlight the need for unity and urgency in ending continued racial injustice. It can't take just some of us; it will take all of us.
While I was a high school principal, I used to tell my students on MLK Day that it wasn't a "day off," but rather a "day on" with the purpose of remembering the past, recognizing the present, and dreaming about the future. I encourage us to do the same regarding June 19th and treat this day the equal intentionality. What have we continued to learn about the past? What have we learned about our present? And what can we do as an organization and you as educators to shape the future?
I hope a day of individual reflection helps all our collective efficacy moving forward.