Celebrating Juneteenth: Looking Back and Looking Forward



Celebrating Juneteenth: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Today, Friday, June 19, is officially Juneteenth–the holiday where we celebrate when the last African-Americans were emancipated, in Texas, on June 19, 1865. All week, the Power Coalition and our partners have been creating space for community and fighting for modern-day liberation, and we will continue to do so today, this weekend, and onward until our dreams are realized.

NEW ORLEANS, LA | June 19, 2020—It’s been an emotional, uplifting, challenging, and inspiring week so far, as the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice (PCEJ–http://powercoalition.org) and our partners have worked to make this Juneteenth Week a celebrations, a time for healing, and a call to action. Considering the local, statewide, national, and global upheaval around the Black Lives Matter movement, the holiday couldn’t have come at a more apt time.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • On Monday, we held an Interfaith Day of Healing and Action, where we brought together leaders from across the religious spectrum and across the state to heal our communities and begin to look forward.

  • On Tuesday, we led a Census Day of Action, where we called and texted people all over Louisiana as part of our ongoing efforts to increase Census turnout. Then we capped the day off with a Collegiate Virtual Kickback session, as our young leaders joined together joyfully while also thinking about how they can shape the future.

  • Wednesday was a daylong fight for justice, from the streets of New Orleans to the halls of the State Capitol.

    • In the morning, we joined many of our partner organizations in Baton Rouge to support House Bill 51, by Rep. Edmond Jordan, which would have ended Qualified Immunity in Louisiana (watch the hearing here, starting at the 2:27:00 mark). It was one of the most powerful hearings you’ll ever witness in that building. While the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped, it was a step forward in the fight for justice and to honor Black lives.

    • At the same time, we took part in a walk-along with striking New Orleans sanitation workers, known as “Hoppers”. They are 14 Black men who are building the City Waste Union to fight on behalf of all sanitation workers. They walked off the job on May 5, and are demanding that their employer, Metro Services Group, repair broken trucks, and provide workers with PPE, $15 an hour, and weekly hazard pay of $150. You can learn more about their story in this video.

    • We wrapped up the day by hosting a virtual listening session with those same sanitation workers, and were joined by Ozell Ueal, one of the Memphis sanitation workers who took part in the famous 1968 “I Am A Man” strike. Sadly, the call was interrupted by racists who sought to break our solidarity. But we overcame the petty efforts of these small-minded bigots to regather and continue our to hear the powerful stories of the striking Hoppers.

    • A recap of the call can be found in this Twitter thread.

  • On Thursday, we finally saw the state legislature respond to the demands of protesters across the state when the House Administration of Criminal Justice committee unanimously passed two measures that represent major steps forward in reforming policing in Louisiana. Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 establishes the Police Training, Screening, and De-esclation Task Force. House Resolution 9 begins the process of getting the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to adopt body-worn cameras for all officers.

But we aren’t finished yet. Not by a long shot. Here’s what’s coming up today and tomorrow:

  • Today we’ll be supporting our partner organization, Voice of the Experienced (VOTE–www.vote-nola.org), in their Juneteenth March and Vigil at Angola Penitentiary.

  • Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. we’ll be back with the Hoppers, in solidarity with the Movement 4 Black Lives, at Pratt Park, 5733 Chatham Dr., New Orleans, LA. Come out and join us! We’ll also be handing out PPE and registering people to vote.

Finally, don’t forget to vote! Tomorrow, June 20, is the first day of Early Voting for the July 11 Presidential Primary election, which will also include local races in many parishes, including First City Court in New Orleans, City Judge in Baton Rouge, District Court Judge in East Baton Rouge Parish, and many more.

Every election is important. Your vote is our voice, and your voice matters.

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice works to build voice and power in traditionally ignored communities, with a focus on communities of color. We are a coalition of groups from across Louisiana whose mission is to organize in impacted communities, educate and turn out voters, and fight for policies that create a more equitable and just system in Louisiana.

What: Power Coalition’s continuing Juneteenth Week of Action events

When: June 15-20, 2020


Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, ashelton@powercoalition.org

Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, prb@powercoalition.org