Juneteenth is not just another federal holiday. Juneteenth—a combination of June and nineteenth—is a recognition of America’s original and longest-lasting sin: slavery. This holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. Celebrations will take various forms around the country, from simple acknowledgment to parties to collective prayer and remembrance. At Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, we believe that our recognition of this holiday, this “Freedom Day,” requires more than just words or commercialized (and often culturally-insensitive) remembrances. It is not a Fourth of July freedom celebration; in fact, were it truly a day of freedom, there would have been no need for Brown v. Board of Education, voting or civil rights legislation, or a Supreme Court decision to declare the legality of interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia).
Benjamin Rose recognizes the effects that systemic racism continues to have on our Cleveland community and our country as a whole. Thus, Juneteenth is both a recognition of and appreciation for the freedoms we now enjoy and also a reminder of the urgent need for equity and justice work to continue. We believe Juneteenth and its history emphasize the importance of centering equity and justice in our work, and observance of this holiday will be an opportunity to reflect on our work thus far and to commit to it moving forward.
As a community, Benjamin Rose will come together in honor of Juneteenth and intentionally dedicate time and energy to increasing access to voting for older adults in our community. After all, at the heart of freedom in a democratic nation lies the right to vote, the official empowerment of each and every adult voice in this country. We cherish this right – and yet, today, many marginalized populations are perilously close to losing it.
Collectively we will work to raise voter registration, improve voter access, and ultimately increase the number of voters among older adults. We will strive to ensure the following:
Through non-partisan voter education and outreach events, older adults will become better-informed citizens with an increased sense of this civic duty and the power of their own voice.
Through training and education Benjamin Rose employees will develop a greater understanding of voter suppression and ways to engage and empower older adults to express their voice through the voting process.
Benjamin Rose will assist older adults with the voter registration, update voter registration information or ballot submission process.
How will you help us to move the promise of Juneteenth forward? How will you answer this call to action?
Register to vote yourself or check your voter registration: https://olvr.ohiosos.gov/
Join a Benjamin Rose voter engagement activity: call our volunteer coordinator at 216-791-8000
Write/call your representative to show your support for voting rights legislation: https://www.vote.org/explainer-johnlewisvotingrightsadvancementact/
Learn more about vote suppression: https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/vote-suppression
We believe Juneteenth is a day of collective remembrance and a time to re-commit to civic engagement and meaningful action. We hope you will join us in this effort!