June 19, 2020

Reflection by LeBrian Brown, BSM staff member

In response to the global #BlackLivesMatter movement and the current climate of our country, Broad Street Ministry would like to commemorate Juneteenth as a holiday to celebrate African American’s official emanicpation from slavery. As an organization, in solidarity with the experiences of Black Americans and in respect to our African American guests and staff, I wanted to give some insight to the importance of this day.

In 1863 during the midst of the American Civil War, former President Abraham Lincoln would sign the Emancipation Proclamation which declared all enslaved Negros be freed from slavery. However, two years would pass before word would travel to the lone state of Texas which remained a slave state. On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, the Union soldiers returned to Texas when Union General Gordon Granger read the federal orders and informed the residents of Texas that slavery was abolished in all 50 states ending slavery for good. How was it possible that slavery was still operating even after it had been abolished? The delay of freedom would galvanize a time of reconstruction, only to be offset by sharecropping and streamlined into the racial, economic, and punitive history of Jim Crow Segregation creating what we know today as mass incarceration.

Juneteenth is both a reminder of the harsh reality of American history as well as a celebration for liberation, independence, and resilience. For all the brave men and women who have committed themselves to fighting against racial and economic injustices, we are forever grateful.

As the Mayor of Philadelphia has declared Junteenth a city holiday, there will be a peaceful rally and march at 12 pm at the Municipal Building. Former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Rasheed Wallace will be the hosts. We hope that you are able to attend this event or some of the many events happening throughout the weekend

Although we are unable to physically shut down BSM for this year’s Juneteenth, the team has agreed to recognize this important day in history. We will be wearing the colors of the Pan African Flag (Red, Black, or Green) today, Red standing for the blood, Green for the Motherland of Africa, and Black for the race. The RBG flag is a symbol of black liberation or simply put black freedom created by Marcus Garvey.

I can’t express enough how happy I am to be a part of this team. I feel completely supported, lucky to be able to have my voice be heard and I have profound respect for everyone protesting, organizing, marching and checking in on us. 

In your personal time, please educate yourselves on the history of Juneteenth and why even after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, we still had slaves in America; very deep story! I can be a resource of information for anyone who wants to talk Black history.

Broad Street Ministry fully supports all of our African American guests and staff and would like to join them in celebrating African American Independence Day, Juneteenth!