June 19, 1865, or Juneteenth, marks the anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States, one of the most important dates in our nation’s history.
But even today, 155 years later, systemic racism is still alive in the United States. Over the past several months, the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and others have reminded us how far we still have to go in our fight for racial justice.
Just as we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day from the British Empire in 1776, we also celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for the millions of enslaved people. But we recognize that many Americans were not free from legal discrimination for nearly another century and today still must fight for full and equal treatment under American law and in our society.
This year, we will celebrate Juneteenth in streets across the country where the modern-day civil rights movement marches for justice. TWU members’ participation in this movement follows our long history of fighting for equality in the workplace and in our communities, beginning with our first New York City subway contract in 1937. In subsequent years, the TWU continued to fight for and win equality for all workers, regardless of color or creed, in hiring and promotional opportunities across every industry where we represent workers.
We are determined to continue that fight as we organize in workplaces across America. Each one of us deserves to truly be free.