OAR Celebrates Freedom and Liberation for Juneteenth

June 19, 2023

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, holds a profound historical and cultural significance in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed freedom for the remaining enslaved Black people, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Juneteenth represents the end of chattel slavery for Black people in the United States and highlights the enduring struggle for equality and justice.

Juneteenth has only been recognized as a federal holiday since 2021, but we at OAR of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church have celebrated Juneteenth for many years now as we have been on the journey for racial justice and liberation for all. Throughout the entire year, but on Juneteenth especially, OAR gives special honor to and celebrates the achievements, contributions, cultural heritage, ancestors, and liberation of Black people. We are emboldened by their perseverance and resilience in the face of injustice and seek to honor their spirit in our work. We take today as another opportunity to affirm our commitment to dismantling racism in all systems, particularly the criminal legal system, and promoting justice, healing, and freedom for all, especially for OAR participants and their families. 

Although Juneteenth is also a call for community, radical love and joy, and celebration, it is also a reminder that our country has a deep-rooted history of anti-Black racism and calls us to take an explicitly pro-Black stand and emphasizes the importance of OAR’s work and fight for liberation. In order to celebrate freedom for all, we need to have freedom for all. 

Today, let us all recommit ourselves to the journey for racial justice and liberation. It is not enough to simply commemorate the past; we must actively work towards a future where all can thrive and be free. 

For more about Juneteenth: https://calendar.eji.org/racial-injustice/jun/19 

For more about OAR’s Upstream and Downstream Work: https://vimeo.com/816714290