In their own words
Tiara LaceyPhD Candidate, Harvard Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program"Freedom is never really won"
LaShyra “Lash” NolenMD Candidate, HMS/HSDM Student Council President"Juneteenth - A movement, not a moment"
Fourth of July used to be my favorite holiday.
Hues of red, white and blue, watermelon triangles, and barbeque were the highlights of my day. Fireworks would light the night sky and I would feel alive, that was until I learned it was all a lie. Because the celebration that filled the air was not for me, just like it wasn’t 400 years ago for my ancestors during chattel slavery.
Or the Indigenous peoples, whose land we occupy as I speak.
I’ll never understand why this country fails to acknowledge those they mistreat.
See July 4th, 1776 was the day they taught me to celebrate.
By they I mean my white schoolteachers and textbooks, let’s get that straight.
It was my family who taught me that freedom for them and us, did not equate.
Even if it was to the same God to whom we both prayed.
Because while white families scheduled grand dinners to commemorate their freedom, it was my ancestors who were the ones forced to feed them.
For some the constitution was their solution, for my people it only solidified their inferior stature in this institution. For example, 16 years later they were forced to build the White House. The same one 45 lives in, along with the hate so readily espoused.
June 19, 1865 was the true start of our freedom story. Today we celebrate Juneteenth, as if it’s okay we waited 155 years to ignore it. Like we ignore the disruption of families, children left alone their guardians deported. This level of erasure we can no longer condone it.
While today is one of a celebratory mood. I mean it’s Juneteenth, I know my grandparents gone get they groove. We still must remember that for true Black liberation to be achieved there is still so much work to do. These names will remind of us of that, as I conclude:
The Charleston 9
Oluwatoyin Ruth "Toyin" Salau
Today needs to be a movement not a moment, because July 4th never gave us our freedom and we’re still waiting on it.
Rhea BoydPediatrician and child health advocate"On freedom"
Ask me about my grandmother and I’ll tell you about her hands
How they crinkled like pillows under the weight of our heads
How they fed me into womanhood and covered my future in prayer
How they carried me
And cared for me
And carved space for me - in this world
Ask me about my mother and I’ll tell you about her side
How I fit in there
How it covered me
How warm it is
How I belong to it
Ask me about my sister and I’ll tell you about her arms
How they fought for me
And pushed for me
How they stretched over me like umbrellas and under me like a swing
How they protect me
Ask me about my father and I’ll tell you about his chest
How it rises to greet me
And swells to guard me
And softens to hear me
And hardens to support my feet - in this world
This moment of freedom - this joyous occasion which we now celebrate
This freedom that was carried down to the shores of Texas on the back of our nation’s patriots
This freedom was not granted
It was taken
By hands like my grandmothers, and from sides like my mothers,
This freedom was lifted in arms like my sisters, and floated on chests like my fathers
Ask me about this freedom and I’ll tell you about the people who have
nourished me, and guided me,
protected me and prayed for me,
And loved me - into this time, now
Into this freedom, here
This freedom was sown in the long nights of darkness by the wise people who knew
O joy, always comes in the morning.
Woke up this morning with my mind, stayed on freedom…hallelu hallelu, hallelujah