URGE Statement on Juneteenth
June 18, 2021
A century and a half since June 19, 1865, — the date federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure all enslaved African Americans were freed — Juneteenth continues to serve as a celebration of joy and resilience for Black people. A year after the global uprisings that followed the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and over a year into a global pandemic, this Juneteenth comes amid a period of immeasurable hardship. Yet, the holiday’s spirit of possibility remains stronger than ever. To honor that spirit of possibility, URGE will close our offices on Juneteenth, because our staff deserve the time to meditate on the gifts that we all gain from the liberation of Black people. As URGE prepares to close its office URGE leader Danielle Hurd-Wilson (they/them) reflects on the importance of using the holiday to center all that is possible.
Statement from Danielle Hurd-Wilson, Interim Deputy Director of Field and Programs, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity:
“As a kid, I always looked forward to the Juneteenth festival my mom took me to. Growing up in Birmingham, in a Black neighborhood, going to a Black school, we usually learned Black History in the context of a struggle—against Jim Crow, against enslavement, against the systems that sought to obliterate Blackness and Black people. But the Juneteenth celebrations I went to growing up were centered around the joy of liberation and the vast, vast possibilities that lay in front of Black people who were to no longer be treated as property.
“The spirit of vast possibilities is what we hope to honor this Juneteenth. We understand the power of expanding our celebrations to center all that Black folk can do beyond simply surviving. The past year has shown us once again that young people uniquely understand the possibility of a liberated world and they continue to push us and the movement toward that vision. They have a special perspective because, like the young people before them, they remain on the frontlines of radical change.
“It is because we know the power of young people, that we continue to provide them with the tools to guide and help them hold onto this possibility. Instead of providing lip service, we work to dismantle the literal systems that shut down all their possibilities. By supporting policies like The For the People Act / The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the EACH Act; organizing and base building on campuses and in our cities; and running campaigns around divestment from the carceral system and investment in our communities, we are giving young people the ability to say ‘we are agents of possibility.’”
URGE envisions a liberated world where we can live with justice, love freely, express our gender and sexuality, and define and create families of our choosing. To achieve our vision of liberation, URGE builds power and sustains a young people’s movement for reproductive justice by centering the leadership of young people of color who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary, and people of low-income. As a state-driven national organization, URGE organizes our communities, provides a political home for young people, advocates for meaningful policy change, and shifts culture, working in states where the challenges and opportunities are greatest.