This year, for the first time, Self-Help will close our branches and offices on Monday June 20, in observation of Juneteenth. I am excited to recognize this special holiday as a time of celebration, joy and rest.
If you don’t know the history of Juneteenth and why it’s such an important holiday, you can learn more here.
Why does Juneteenth matter to Self-Help? Alex Boyd, a staff member in our Brevard, NC branch, sums it up with Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous words: “Juneteenth is a reminder that ‘nobody is free until everybody is free.’”
All of our fates are connected. Self-Help’s work is based on the belief that a better, freer, more just world is possible.
Every day, our members, borrowers, partners and staff show us what that world could look like. Every day, we get to see Black entrepreneurs creating amazing businesses. We see communities coming together to create valuable resources for themselves. We see families making loving and happy homes for their kids. We see people building financial power and realizing their goals. We get to see joy and freedom in action.
Juneteenth is a day of celebration. It is also a day of remembrance. Just over seven years ago, on June 17, 2015, a white racist terrorist murdered nine African Americans during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Already this year, we have seen the horrors of homegrown racial hatred play out in the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, and in countless other, less publicized, tragedies. We have witnessed the racially disparate impact of COVID continue to unfold. We continue to see Black families and communities denied loans and opportunities afforded to others.
Yes, we must celebrate the end of slavery, an original sin of our nation. But we should not ignore or forget history. We have a duty to see and fight structural inequality and continuing, corrosive racism.
I hope that that this weekend and this Monday, we all rest and celebrate together with family and friends. I hope that we all take a moment to connect with joy, and to remind ourselves of all that is possible.
And I know that this Juneteenth — and every day — we at Self-Help will continue to focus our talents and resources to help bring forth a world where everybody will indeed be free.