This week at Potomac Riverkeeper Network we are commemorating Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved individuals in the U.S. Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th and is known as the day of freedom and liberation.
The start of Juneteenth originated in Texas when in 1865 it was announced by the U.S. Major General Gordon Granger that thousands of slaves were free under the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This day is celebrated as the beginning of the end of the long roots of slavery in the U.S. Juneteenth, getting its name from June and Nineteenth, was revived during the civil rights movement and this year there is a massive push for the holiday to be recognized as a federal holiday.
Here at Potomac Riverkeeper Network, we have witnessed first hand how environmental racism in the U.S. is manifested in the pollution burden that people of color bear in drinking water supplies, exposure to toxins, fish contamination, and water pollution. PRKN has committed to JEDI (Justice, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) through its strategic plan and a board approved policy with a dedicated JEDI committee, staff and volunteers to help implement effective programs to promote inclusion and target water related injustices.
PRKN president Nancy Stoner, a member of the JEDI committee has said “PRKN has a strong commitment to ensuring that everyone, especially those most impacted by pollution, enjoy the benefits of clean water. We are eager to engage with communities throughout the watershed to make that happen.” We encourage you to attend local events including the Juneteenth Cookout on June 19th or a combined hike and paddle hosted by Soul Trak the same day!