On June 19th, 1865, Texas became one of the last major states in America to recognize the end of slavery – this sparked a celebration in the following years known as Juneteenth (also referred to as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, and Freedom Day). It took nearly 100 more years for Black people in the United States to be granted equal rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protecting them against discrimination, segregation, harassment, and more. Unfortunately, the struggle for true liberation continues decades later in 2021. As Juneteenth becomes more recognized nationwide, we must not forget how far we have come; but also how much further we need to go.
One of the guiding principles of Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS) is to fully acknowledge and fight against the many injustices of the world. We continue to stand with the Black community against injustice. The systematic oppression that you have endured cannot continue. NNJLS not only stands as a support system, but as an ally, a family member, and a friend who will continue the work of advocating for equal justice for all.
In the last year alone, we have suffered through the unjust killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Daunte Wright, and so many that have gone unreported or underreported. These examples of brutality have forced the nation to reckon with our history of structural and institutional racism and actively oppose these systems. As an organization dedicated to justice and equality for over. There is tremendous amount of work to be done at multiple levels: local, state, and federal – and in our very own communities.
As a diverse team of attorneys and staff, who have dedicated our careers to equal justice, we have a unique vantage point from which to witness the injustices tolerated by our justice system against communities of color. We are also keenly aware of how a long history of institutional racism has led to pervasive inequalities. Such inequalities continue to burden these communities in ways that are increasingly im
possible to ignore. For example, communities of color face the highest rates of unemployment and financial instability. We know that they are subject to environmental injustices and are most likely victimized by crime. Tragically, they are the ones who have suffered the most during the COVID-19 crisis with what are by far the highest rates of infection and death. We are not ignorant of these tragic truths and we continue to work endlessly to right these wrongs.
As recent events have made crystal clear, we have a long way to go before achieving true equal justice for all – requiring us all to redouble our commitment to fighting racism and injustice. Nonetheless, we are steadfast in our co
mmitment to this cause and will continue to listen, learn, and advocate so that together we can achieve a more just and equitable world. With Juneteenth well on its way to becoming a widely celebrated and acknowledged national holiday; we must work together against injustice and help the country move forward.
Please stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay hopeful.
- Northeast New Jersey Legal Services