On this Juneteenth 2022, I’m asking you to understand history, celebrate progress, and uplift the importance of intersectionality in the work toward freedom and justice. A statement by Christianne Marguerite, Director of Communications at Progressive Maryland.
It was on June 19th, 1865 that 2,000 Union troops arrived in Texas and announced that the 250,000 enslaved Black people there were finally freed by an executive decree, commemorating the end of chattel slavery in the Confederate States. I am honored to be celebrating this important date in Black history, also known as Freedom Day.
On this Juneteenth, I am remembering the lives lost at the hands of slavery and modern day racism. This country was founded upon violence that still persists today with the ongoing murder of Black people, continuous displacement of Indigenous communities, and brutal hate crimes against our Asian friends and family. It’s difficult to drive a car, walk in the street, or attend a Church or Synagogue without fear and anxiety running down our spine knowing that there’s a target on our back. I am heartbroken for our society as we try our best to heal when everyday comes with more bad news and legislators aren’t taking action on stricter police reform and gun control.
On this Juneteenth, I am continuing to fight for equity and justice for my communities. It’s important to understand that being 157 years removed from a 400-year institution of depravity means that the fight for true liberation of Black Americans is not over – especially here in Maryland. The harmful legacy of the state marginalizing Black people continues. Today, Black Marylanders are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other racial or ethnic group - 69% of people who have died in a police encounter in MD were Black, and 41% of them were unarmed (ACLU-MD); 4x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people even though both races use cannabis at the same rates (NORML); and less likely to smoke than their white counterparts but still more likely to die from non-smokers lung cancer due to a higher chance of living in proximity to a coal-fired plant or other environmental hazards and toxins (NAACP). The United States was built for free by enslaved Black people and continues to be a wealthy country because it capitalizes off of continued racial oppression. Capitalism was never meant to work for everyone, and will never be fully freed until we see a new form of real economic justice that works for all. The fact is that we need our state and local governments to enact laws that protect and enhance the lives of Black Marylanders - Period. This goes beyond affordable housing, a clean environment, access to healthcare and a quality education - We deserve to be fundamentally safe and valued. Yet there’s still so much work to do to get there.
On this Juneteenth, I am celebrating the progress we have made while recognizing intersectionality as a key to liberation. In 1870, when Black men gained the right to vote, Maryland enacted property requirements for voters, barring all men without land from voting - and of course very few Black men owned farms or homes then. Don’t think I forgot about women - women were granted the right to vote through the 19th Amendment in 1920 but it really wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 almost 100 years after 1870 when all Black women fully gained the right to vote, since that act outlawed any discriminatory voting practices (like literacy tests). That was the same year my mother was born, only 57 years ago. It comes as no surprise now that the rights and dignity of Black women are STILL being tossed aside, whether it’s our reproductive rights with a ban on safe abortions or remembering our too many lives lost. That’s why I’m lifting up everyone Black who typically gets pushed to the back - Black women, Black lesbians, Black gay men, Black trans and non-binary people, Black immigrants, and Black people with disabilities - forward, towards freedom.
On this Juneteenth, I am also centering joy. I spent the day yesterday at the Baltimore African American Festival with my family, supporting local Black business, artists and musicians; and of course, eating good food.
I’m doing my part, and as a Queer Black Woman, I’m asking you to do the same. Sign up to support electing more Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, and Women progressive candidates into office across Maryland. If you’re not able to donate your time to do voter contact outreach with us, then contribute to our New Era PAC to directly support the campaigns of these top progressive candidates we’ve endorsed. We will only be able to change the system if we are all in this together.
Happy Juneteenth ❤️💛💚
In Solidarity and Liberation,
Director of Communications at Progressive Maryland