On leading society toward equity

From Rep. Robert Reives
Posted 6/16/21

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that enslaved African-Americans in Texas were finally told three words: “You are free.”

Now, 156 years later, we continue to observe Juneteenth, June 19th …

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On leading society toward equity

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Posted

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that enslaved African-Americans in Texas were finally told three words: “You are free.”

Now, 156 years later, we continue to observe Juneteenth, June 19th every year, as a reminder of where this nation has been and how we continue to seek a more perfect union.

The United States has continued to make progress, albeit more slowly than many would like or deserve. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954, ending racial segregation, though many schools continued the practice. North Carolina played an outsized role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. On February 1, 1960, four African-American students in Greensboro refused to leave the whites only lunch counter. Their bravery ignited similar episodes of civil disobedience across the country.

Shaw University, one of the oldest HBCU’s in the nation, was the founding place of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which Ella Baker helped create. The student group expanded across the South, helping to organize marches and Freedom Rides. They advocated for grassroots leadership; every individual has the power to effect change at the local level.

Juneteenth has a renewed focus this year. In the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin trial and similar reckonings around race and policing in our state and nation, we should all commit to reflecting on what this day means in 2021.

As a legislator, part of my job is writing and helping to pass legislation that can have a positive impact on our community. But in the spirit of SNCC, I challenge you as an individual to take steps that lead our society toward equity and understanding. A mustard seed of faith can move mountains.

Though there is much work left, we should not lose sight of the progress made already. Let it be an inspiration for us to continue building toward the future we know is possible.

Rep. Reives serves Dist. 54 — which includes Chatham and a portion of Durham County — in the N.C. House of Representatives. He was recently elected Minority Leader for Democrats serving in the N.C. House. Reives lives in Goldston.

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