On June 19, 2021 the United States will celebrate Juneteenth National Independence Day, as an official federal holiday for the first time. This is an important milestone in the US’s continual journey to reckon with its original sin of slavery. This year marks the 156 anniversary of the day when Major General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, and informed more than 200,000 enslaved Black Americans that they were finally free — more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Since that day, June 19 has been recognized as Juneteenth as a celebration of the de facto end of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, but it is also a reminder of how hard won freedom is, especially for those who have been oppressed and marginalized. This year has been a year of hard truths as we come to a reckoning with the systems of oppression, police brutality, racism, and barriers in equity that persist both in the United States and across the globe.
ReSurge International’s work to provide the world’s most vulnerable populations with life-changing surgical care by developing capacity and dismantling systems of dependence rings hollow if we don’t acknowledge that the struggle for racial equity and justice is happening right here in our own backyards. As an organization, we have been on a journey towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do. For the past year, we have been examining how we approach this work both in the field and within our own internal policies. We will soon share more on this journey and our commitment to embedding DEI in our practices and policies.
As change makers, we have a collective duty to reexamine our industries and fields and push towards greater equity, freedom, and justice. This Juneteenth, let’s celebrate all those fighting for freedom. Let us have courageous conversations about race, and let’s commit to uprooting hate, and intolerance wherever that may be.
The ReSurge International Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee