On June 19th, MassEdCO will pause its operations to commemorate Juneteenth, a day in history, June 19, 1865, when Texans heard these words:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
Mind you, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had already been in effect for two and half years! But what caught my eye in Major General Gordon Granger’s words was the phrase “absolute equality of rights!” Unfortunately, we have failed to honor that social contract!
Black Lives Matter is not just a slogan to me; it’s been part of my lived experience for the past thirty years as the husband of an African American man. While I don’t walk in his shoes, I do witness the toll unrelenting indignations have taken on his body and spirit over the years.
I’m encouraged by the recent social outcry and protests, demanding change, not just in our country, but also throughout the world. Even the U.N’s Human Rights Council is scheduled to discuss a resolution drafted by the Africa Group to take a closer look at systemic racism here in the United States.
As the CEO of MassEdCO, I have the privilege of helping to curb a small piece of systemic racism through our mission “to provide access to educational and career opportunities that empower people from diverse backgrounds to achieve their potential.” We are so fortunate to have a dedicated staff and Board of Directors who are unwavering in their support of this mission and who recognize the power that TRIO and other programs have played to support low-income, underrepresented students and adults in postsecondary education.
In celebration of Juneteenth, I ask those who read these words to reflect on this social contract of absolute equality and to commit/recommit to changing hearts and minds.