Juneteenth: Celebrate Freedom June 19

SFUSD is joining the world in celebration of Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day, which commemorates June 19, 1865: the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that the enslaved were now free.

Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while also encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. In San Francisco public schools, educators celebrate the achievement of our African American and Black students every day, and strive for our schools to be welcoming and safe learning environments that empower each and every student to thrive in a changing world.

Juneteenth 2020 comes at a time when 400 years of systemic oppression and underlying racism are at the forefront of national dialogue. As conversations turn to action and our societies continue to evolve, SFUSD remains committed to creating a more just world through the way schools educate and nurture our most vulnerable children.

Founded in 2015, the African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative (AAALI) exists to provide opportunities, guidance and resources to African American students, families and educators. Through programs such as Black Star Rising, which provides summer STEM enrichment courses and access to internships, and the Manhood Development Program, which mentors African American male students in areas of Black Excellence and academic achievement, AAALI has opened doors for SFUSD students in many new ways.

Earlier this year, SFUSD celebrated that the graduation rate for African American students increased to nearly 90% after a decade of work. More recently the district joined the African American Parent Advisory Council and AAALI in congratulating the 310 African American graduating SFUSD seniors on College Signing Day, which celebrates seniors and as they begin to pursue their future plans.

Juneteenth is an important day to celebrate improvements but also to reflect on the work that presently requires our attention and resources. Juneteenth happened over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which serves as a reminder that even in moments of progress, justice is not restored without urgent, consistent effort.

In the words of political activist, philosopher, academic, and author Dr. Angela Davis, “Freedom is a constant struggle.”