June 19 is Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. This time of remembrance began in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, as African American Emancipation Day. In 2021, Juneteenth finally became a federally recognized holiday. A celebration of African American freedom, with an emphasis on education and achievement, Juneteenth is an important and inspiring day for all Americans.
At LEE we are honoring freedom and progress this Juneteenth while continuing to support leaders in the crucial, ongoing work of creating equity in our communities. Find ways to commemorate Juneteenth this year.
Action 1: Learn Juneteenth History
While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, it took two and a half years to spread the news and enforce freedom across the U.S. One of the last Confederate strongholds was Texas. The day Union troops arrived with the Proclamation to ensure enslaved people were freed in Texas is the day we now celebrate as Juneteenth.
Take some time to honor the holiday by learning more about its history.
- Explore the official Juneteenth website
- Read the 2021 proclamation from the White House making Juneteenth a federal holiday
- Discover the historical legacy of Juneteenth from the National Museum of African American History & Culture
Action 2: Listen to Black Voices
Whether you are seeking inspiration, advice, wisdom, or simply a friendly voice to keep you company as you go about your day, an episode of LEE’s The Leaders’ Table Podcast delivers. Check out the episodes below to hear from Black LEE members leading in influential roles across the country.
Everton Blair is the first person of color, the first openly LGBTQ+ candidate, and youngest-ever individual to serve on the Gwinnett County (Atlanta) Board of Education. His job on the school board is personal, considering that he grew up in the very district he now serves. From the classroom to the Obama White House, Everton uses all of his experiences to ensure that every student in Gwinnett County is able to get the best education possible, no matter where they live.
Kira Orange Jones currently serves as a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and is the CEO of Teach Plus. In this episode, Kira dives deep into the lessons she has learned about how to gain technical skills for governing, and how invaluable it is to stay connected to the communities you serve.
From dropping out of high school in NYC, to teaching in Puerto Rico, to serving as U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. John B. King speaks from a wealth of experiences and service. It’s from all of these experiences that he learned the value of second chances, student & educator support, self-care, and national leadership on the issues facing educational success.
Action 3: Support Black Leaders
LEE is deeply committed to changing the face and values of American political leadership. Fundraising remains one of the biggest barriers for candidates from underrepresented communities. Will you join us in knocking it down?
Invest in Black leadership by making a campaign donation to any of these eight LEE members running for office and fighting for equity and against the status quo.
Action 4: Meet with a LEE Coach to Talk about Your Leadership
Honor the past by building a more equitable future for students in your community. LEE members can meet with a LEE coach to determine how to increase your impact on educational equity.
With a LEE coach, you don’t have to stumble through figuring out how to make an impact on your own. Like the difference between going to the gym versus hiring a personal trainer, LEE coaches provide you one-on-one support, guidance, and accountability you won’t find elsewhere in your work toward ending inequity.
Action 5: Apply to Attend People of Color Political Leadership Program
Make a difference in your community and consider pursuing elected office. LEE members who identify as people of color can apply to the People of Color Political Leadership Program. You can learn vital skills and build a strong network to support you in actualizing your dream of running for office.
You’ll gain real-world experience and make life-changing professional connections while positively impacting your community at the same time.
Action 6: Register to be a LEE member
Not yet a LEE member? LEE’s diverse network of 45,000+ leaders works together to ensure an equitable education for kids everywhere.
Members have access to all the resources, tools, and support LEE offers — from networking events, to workshops and trainings, to job opportunities, to one-on-one coaching and mentorship, and so much more.
LEE membership is growing through strategic partnerships. If you are a member, alum, or staff of Teach For America, New Leaders, Public Allies, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Urban Teachers, or Latinos for Education, you can register for free today.
Juneteenth is a day full of hope and meaning. We hope you find value in going through these actions to honor and commemorate this holiday.