Juneteenth 2023


“Then, thenceforward, and forever free...”

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation declared freedom for enslaved individuals in the Confederacy, but those in Galveston, Texas were not made aware until June 19, 1865. This day, also known as Freedom Day, Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, commemorates emancipation and Black liberation. See ways to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth this year!

Read up on the history and significance of Juneteenth

What does FREEDOM mean to you?

Add to our board below or at bullientin boards across agency sites. Share and be entered into a raffle gift card to local Black-owned businesses! See what memories, stories or meaning others add, too.

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Explore Juneteenth and connections to modern-day freedom 

In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing a bill to declare Juneteenth a federal holiday. We celebrate this historic achievement even as we acknowledge the long road ahead toward true liberation.

Political Liberation and Juneteenth- A Reflection by Alkema Jackson

None of us is free until all of us are free. -Nelson Mandela

Inequality has been a part of history for so long, especially concerning the quality of life for black and brown people in America and worldwide. When Juneteenth manifested as a day of celebration for the liberation of the last enslaved folk, it deepened the mark of activism. The mark of activism takes place in a political realm that continues to expand the path of liberation for all.

There is value in using this day to not only celebrate but to teach about history, political party affiliations, laws, & practices, and the position and power of the people. It seems foundational to Juneteenth-solidifying the ground on which liberated persons stand to pursue peace, access, happiness, and safety. Political liberation means that when the words “WE THE PEOPLE” are uttered, black and brown people feel included and inclined to move.

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Food access and sovereignty for Juneteenth by Adedoyin Eisape

Food as a source of nourishment, comfort, cultural expression, and historical reverence plays a significant role in the celebration of Juneteenth. However, food insecurity and lack of access to healthy options continue to be a problem for many communities, especially those that have been historically marginalized.

Though the prevalence of food insecurity and its adverse effects in the United States is well documented, it rarely focuses on how antiblackness and racism dictate how Black populations navigate food geographies. Race- and class-based oppression impacts access to and power of our food economy and land resources, ultimately resulting in poor outcomes for many people and communities. Such outcomes demonstrate the importance of food sovereignty and access as drivers for freedom of expression. Food sovereignty is the right of people to determine their food systems, including production, distribution, and consumption.

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate freedom, progress, and social justice. For many, food sovereignty and land stewardship are an act of resistance and empowerment— Freedom to express culture, to decide what you eat, and what will nourish you and your community.

Black land and food sovereignty is part of a larger trajectory of Black liberation, Black power, and racial justice. By prioritizing food sovereignty and access, we can work towards creating a more just and equitable food system for all. Celebrating Juneteenth with locally sourced and culturally relevant food is a powerful way to honor the legacy of this holiday. It is also an opportunity to support Black ownership within the food system by engaging with local Black farmers and food producers.

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Mental health and freedom of expression by Hala Salih

The freedom to express oneself as a black person is beyond simply expressing thoughts and opinions. The peace to be able to simply exist as a black person is something many are not awarded and requires a tender combination of different factors to be established. The freedom to simply be, is a freedom that is inconsistently accessible for Black people.

Traditional celebrations of Juneteenth have emphasized community and joy in groups. While this comfort is huge lift, there are many black people that are not surrounded by people who look like them. or have to frequently navigate non-black spaces. Cultivating this community sourced joy within ourselves allows us to exist freely and be unapologetically ourselves in any circumstance. While the need to ‘code-switch’ in non-black spaces is often the easiest option, we should not have to. It is not our responsibility to make others comfortable with our blackness, and unfortunately, we are sometimes forced into these positions. The joy to be who we are, and comfortable in it, is an ideal to keep in mind this Juneteenth holiday.  

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Wellness and Health Equity by Arie Hayre-Somuah

Health is defined by the World Health Organization as “ a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. By this definition, all Black and African American individuals in the United States are unhealthy.

As a country founded on, and sustained by, chattel slavery and genocide, anti-Black racism is ingrained into the very fabric of our society. As racism’s reach is expansive and pervasive, it can be found in most things: from policies and laws, to systems, organizations, and individuals—with impacts that are exponentially harmful. As these racist systems and entities continue to be upheld and maintained, Black and African American individuals will continue to be unable to attain social wellbeing, and subsequently, a state of complete health.

As we celebrate the emancipation and freedom of the formerly enslaved and their descendants this Juneteenth, let us not forget the sordid legacy of Slavery and it’s ever-present impacts.

The work is not over for us as individuals, and as a health care organization. Take some time this Juneteenth to reflect on the ways you as an individual, and we as an organization, can encourage, support, and advocate for our clients’ freedom in every interaction.

Join us for Juneteenth Celebration Discussion

On June 16 from 12-1 p.m., join two friends, Alkema Jackson and Hala Salih, for a conversation around Juneteenth as they explore the festive and historical aspects of this epic day!  Bring your lunch, and a friend, and be a part of the conversation in person (Fallsway 3rd Floor Large conference room) or via Teams. 

Attendees will be entered into a raffle gift card to local Black-owned businesses!


Join in local Juneteenth events

Have other events to add? Email aeisape@hchmd.org


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