Happy Juneteenth to all of those that are celebrating!
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas, where on June 19, 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, soldiers arrived and declared that slaves were free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation– almost three years later.
Nationally, the Juneteenth holiday is celebrated by prayer and religious services, speeches, education events, family gatherings, and festivals with lots of food, music, and dancing. The day itself is also celebrated outside of the United States as the recognition of the end of slavery and to celebrate Black culture and achievements. Many people drink “red strawberry soda” on Juneteenth, a drink that slaves hadn’t been able to have.
Two flags represent the holiday, the Juneteenth flag, which represents the history and freedom of slaves and their descendants. The design of the flag depicts a bursting new star on the horizon. That star represents new freedom, a new people, and a new star. The red, white, and blue colors communicate that the American slaves and their descendants were all Americans. You may also see the Pan-African flag that is red, black, and green. This flag was adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1920, the declaration also included that the colors signify the African race, representing the blood, soil, and prosperity of Africa and its people. Red represents the millions that lost their lives during slavery and the civil rights movement. Green represents fertility, productivity, and prosperity, and black represents melanin and the unification of the African diaspora.
As healthcare providers, we can be allies by encouraging our patients to be continuous advocates for themselves and their loved ones. Today, black women have a 63% higher mortality rate as compared to white women. These numbers are not decreasing and in our setting it is a privilege to be able to support individuals in their choice to grow their families and embark on healthy pregnancy and delivery journeys. As a black woman in healthcare, it has always been important to me to show representation and advocate for those that are voiceless.