As a child, my mother’s proudest moments weren’t when I learned to ride my bike or got all my chores done before dinner. Those moments were celebrated, but getting straight A’s in school pleased her most.
My mother wasn’t able to start college because she chose to conceive me. My grandmother and great-grandmother struggled to finish high school because education was not supported in the black and brown communities they lived in. They were taught that the most important thing they could do was to take care of their homes.
My mother, a single mother of 4, wanted something different for her children. She wanted us to have something no one could ever take away – our education. She always told me I would be a Doctor because, to her, that was the highest level of academic achievement.
My mother passed away when I was 14 years old. Losing her shook my entire world. She was my lifeline. She was the reason I chose to do well in school. What is life going to look like without her, was my biggest fear. What I learned is that although her physical presence is no longer here, her spirit and everything she instilled in me still lives and it lives through ME. I am who I am, because she was who she was. In 14 years, she managed to give me everything I would need as a now 33 year old mother of 2. What a strong black woman she was!
She instilled her hopes and dreams into me so deeply that I carried the importance of education very close to my heart throughout the rest of my life.
On June 19th, 1865 enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were told they were free. Juneteenth became an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
African Americans have been celebrating the day since the late 1800s, but it has gained recognition and attention in recent years, particularly following last year’s protests of police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans.
The celebration continues to resonate with many in new ways. To me, it holds great meaning because it made everything my mother wished for me to achieve – and everything I have ended up achieving – possible.
While there is still so much work to do to advance opportunities for Black and Brown communities, the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in confederate states on June 19th, 1865 made where we are and what we are working towards today possible..
Juneteenth is a day to remember what my ancestors stood for. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate how far my community has come as well as how far we have to go to achieve equality in America.
Juneteenth reminds me that any struggles I face being a black woman were designed to strengthen me and make the path easier for my children. Juneteenth reminds me that my black is beautiful!
I have worked in healthcare for over 10 years and this is the first time I have worked for a company that has recognized, celebrated and honored Juneteenth. Kindbody is the first. Kindbody has made a bold statement in healthcare by choosing to honor African Americans as they realize the fight for equality is important and it is not over. Kindbody acknowledges the talented Black and Brown people that are a part of their team and gives us the space to grow in our individual professions. What I am most thankful for is that as a black woman in healthcare, with Kindbody, the possibilities are endless.
Juneteenth is a special mark in our community that should be celebrated. I choose to observe this holiday by remembering the sacrifices my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother made so that I could have something no one could ever take away, my education. As I prepare to embark on my Doctoral degree, I say to my mother in heaven ”Mom, I guess you were right, Dr. LaRhonda Best is on the way.”