On June 19, 1865, the Union Army announced in Galveston, Texas, then a sparsely populated state, that all enslaved people were to be liberated, two years after Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation.
One hundred and fifty-five years later, on the anniversary of that fateful day, Juneteenth is celebrated nationwide in what is believed to be the oldest African-American holiday. OPEIU joins this national celebration and remembrance of black history, black culture, black struggle, and black progress.
This Juneteenth also serves as an opportunity to remember our black brothers, sisters, and non-binary siblings who today are still working, without choice, within the U.S. prison system. Hundreds of companies in the U.S. produce their products on the backs of underpaid workers in our nation's broken prison system, populated through our nation's broken criminal justice system that seems to criminalize blackness at every step of the way.
In celebrating Juneteenth this year, OPEIU recommits itself to the long and difficult struggle for black equality, black empowerment, and black freedom from a set of systems and institutions – ranging from policing and employment discrimination to profit-based healthcare and the intentional defunding of social programs – built specifically to benefit the few at the expense of many.