One Year In: A Juneteenth National Holiday


by Aleasa Word, FAACT VP of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

A year ago, the United States officially established Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Before that, some states had their own recognition of this day to support the deep culture of African Americans, celebrating what some call Black Independence Day. After all, Juneteenth marks the date that the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, found out that they were free in 1865 – a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. So, June 19th will forever represent a day of freedom, leaving an indelible mark for generations whose families were impacted by slavery in America.

Since FAACT was founded, we have continued to evolve the way we look at inclusion. We understand the importance of intersectionality, of knowing that people of all races, colors, orientations, religions, and creeds live with food allergies. Because of this, it is important to meet our community wherever they are, whether it be the recognition of Juneteenth, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Pride Month, Native American Heritage Month, Hispanic American Heritage month, or other opportunities to tell the melting pot in our country, WE SEE YOU!

Now is the time to reflect on “what will Juneteenth bring for us all  in the coming year.

  1. Will we take the time to seek out new knowledge about the cultures and historical accounts that make Juneteenth the incredible holiday it is?
  2. Will we take time to learn about some of the traditional meals served during Juneteenth?
  3. Will we take the holiday off, kick back, and just relax?
  4. Will we take part in cultural celebrations happening in each state, whether we identify as  African American or not?

Whatever choices we make this holiday, we can do so knowing that the freedoms we enjoy today are not to be taken lightly. We can also be intentional in our remembrance of the struggles many slaves endured fighting for freedom, leaving behind the knowledge of who they were and where their ancestors came from. Let us not forget or take for granted the sacrifices of other cultures who – through blood, sweat, and tears – gave way to the open doors we have to walk through along with the opportunity to build a better life for all people regardless of race, religion, gender, or orientation. We can also reflect  on the efforts of countless people who helped along the way, including groups like the Quakers of Delaware and Pennsylvania, who worked alongside Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad, freeing people from the atrocity of slave life. Do so knowing that today we have an opportunity to continue the fight, regardless of our race, gender, religion, or orientation, to break down the systemic injustices still in place.  

We are not where we could be when it comes to equity and inclusion, yet we certainly are not where we were. The step our legislators took to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was much bigger than many realize. Inclusion for one often intersects with inclusion for all. Each step forward has a far-reaching impact for all communities including those with food allergies. We cannot give up on the momentum now...Juneteenth should and can be recognized by all.