As Sound Transit prepares for the second celebration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, it is time to pause and recognize that for our Black riders, this is not a new holiday, but a long overdue day of remembrance.
It is more than a paid day of rest from work. It is the remembrance of a day that finally made real the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and its eve [Watch Night], when people stayed up to watch for freedom that was to take effect on Jan. 1, 1863.
And while there will be picnics and celebrations, for many there will also be solemnness and a sadness over the fact Black people still face racism.
We encourage you to observe Juneteenth by learning about our country’s hidden history—in the words of Delbert Richardson, who brought an exhibit to Union Station several years ago—our “Untold Truths.”
Juneteenth is a good time to learn the rest of the story about why people in Galveston, Texas, remained enslaved until June 19, 1865.
Here are some great resources we’ve shared with our employees to learn more about the holiday, we hope you will do the same.
- Historian Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott lectures on the history of Juneteenth
- The Racial Wealth Gap – Senator Corey Booker and others
- Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow” (2013)
- This is Why Juneteenth is Important for America - The Root
- Chef, author, musician Lazarus Lynch: “This year I don’t feel like celebrating. Instead, I’m cooking barbecue in memory of Black lives lost.”
- Juneteenth via BlackPast.org
- Juneteenth Arts & Culture Events (City of Seattle)
- Juneteenth Reads at King County Public Library
- Juneteenth Storywalk at Tacoma Public Library (Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free)
(Brooke Belman is the Sound Transit Interim Chief Executive Officer)