Honoring Juneteenth Day

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth is a day to celebrate how far we have come in the struggle for equality and freedom in the United States. Each June nineteenth commemorates the arrival of freedom to the remaining enslaved African Americans in 1865, and serves as a reminder of the hope, tenacity, and spirit of the African-American community to date. Juneteenth stands as a joyous holiday rooted in an important milestone to true and full participation in American democracy.

As an African American and an environmental justice organizer, Juneteenth is an opportunity to share something I know fundamentally about our climate justice movement:

The interfaith climate movement cannot be relevant in the long run without being a just interfaith climate movement with a vision for ensuring that the lives of Black people matter.

In light of widespread reminders that Black Lives Matter, it is so fitting that we reflect on the long history that my community remembers and connects to this very week in Minnesota’s history:

  • June 15, 1920: This week, one hundred years ago, three Black men — Clayton, Jackson, McGhie — were lynched in Duluth with at least 10,000 witnesses.
  • June 19, 1865: 155 years ago today, remembered as Juneteenth, some of the last slaves in Galveston, Texas received news of the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaimed on January 1, 1863. This was the Emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy.

Sadly, the end of slavery did not automatically mean instantaneous access and inclusion in American society, and it also did not mean the end of controlling and oppressing African Americans. We see this reality exemplified in the health, economic, social, and environmental inequalities and disparities facing African Americans and other communities. We have work to do!

We at MNIPL are challenging each other to more intentionally center Black lives as important and relevant to our work to honor the planet and the people on it. We invite you to join us in working towards collective liberation through a just climate movement. We know everyone benefits when we center the well being and value of Black people and oppressed communities.

If you have not done so already, please sign the pledge for collective liberation, and also consider taking time to understand or to actively work towards an anti-racist future.


Whitney Terrill

Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light


Photo: Freed Woman and Freed Man Sculptures by Adrienne Rison Isom at the Juneteenth Memorial Monument at The George Washington Carver Museum, Culture, and Genealogy Center in Austin, TX, representing how the news of freedom spread. Photo by: Jennifer Rangubphai. Source: Wikimedia Commons.