Dear Reiss-Davis Community,
Marking a historic moment, today on Thursday 17, 2021, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, signed into law June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth becomes the eleventh and most recent federal holiday, since adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day and the oldest known celebration of slaves being freed in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Texas was the last state to announce that all slaves were free in accordance with Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation (January 1 of 1863). It is the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which legally abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime on December 6, 1865.
Juneteenth is a day of celebration and hope inviting reflection and dialog about race, equality, and inclusion. While slavery was abolished more than 156 years ago, African Americans for the longest time did not receive the same rights, and discrimination against people of color in our communities has remained ever present. While we celebrate, we must remember that the road to justice is long and paved with unspeakable atrocities, physical and systemic violence, uncounted losses, and sorrow. Without acknowledging trauma, there is no path to healing.
There should be a day to commemorate the end of slavery. Thinking about the feelings of people who experienced that—they knew that they were walking into another struggle...But they were hopeful, and I wanted to commemorate that hope. Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, American Historian
Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, our parent organization, and Reiss-Davis Graduate School are deeply committed to creating an antiracist environment that strengthens all of us in combating racism in our professional and personal lives and in celebrating community. On June 8, 2021, Lena Wilson, President of Vista Del Mar, released a
Statement of Compassion, Understanding, Equity, Respect, Inclusion, Peace, and Justice for All:
… Our actions will continue to be louder than our words …
Our Leadership, Staff, Educators and Volunteers continue to work collaboratively to expand meaningful programs and curricula that address social injustice, while providing our community the tools to contribute to the ongoing movement towards equity and inclusion for all in our society. We teach our courageous children that empathy and the understanding that we are all connected feeds the warm fires of kindness, collaboration, goodness and grace, cultivating a culture of compassion.
Vista Del Mar will continue to partner with those who ensure and protect access to spaces and services that are safe, equitable and inclusive, amplifying and supporting solutions that address and aspire to heal the root causes of the discrimination and inequities that undermine and divide our communities.
Our actions will be louder than our words. Vista Del Mar commits to meeting these moments. We are Vista Del Mar, United for goodness, United against hate, and guided by the core values of Empowerment, Equity, and Excellence. Together We Rise.
Joining in Commemoration, Hope, and Celebration,
Simran Khalsa, MLIS
Chair DITF Committee, Reiss-Davis Graduate School
Jens Schmidt, PhD
Dean, Reiss-Davis Graduate School