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Juneteenth 2023

Vicissitudes Sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor
“Vicissitudes” Sculpture by Jason de Caires Taylor

By Bart Bailey, MBA (he/him), Owner and Principal Consultant, Courage To Care, LLC

We are truly living in interesting times. People are seeking more connection with family and friends after two years of isolating by choice. We may have leveraged some virtual technology as well to connect with family and friends. I desire to live in a community with the ability to celebrate and share sorrow in community. There is something about being in community with others that values your being.

Juneteenth has long been a part of African American community. The PBS website states:

What is Juneteenth?

“The holiday's origin story begins in Galveston, Texas, which was the western-most area of the Union in 1865. When enslaved people there were told of their emancipation on June 19, 1865, they had technically already been freed two-and-a-half years prior, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Slaveholders in Texas had kept the information to themselves, extending the period of violent exploitation of enslaved African Americans. The following year, in 1866, a celebration was had in Texas, the first Juneteenth observance to recognize freedom from slavery in the U.S.”

I often wonder how many other things are left untold. Are there other truths not being shared. How might these hidden stories impact on our collective humanity. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has an amazing study on racism in nursing. The nurses were experiencing racist acts from patients, colleagues and leaders. Most of the incidents were committed by leaders. How do we hold each other accountable not only to DO no harm with one another at home and inside of our health care institutions, but to become a force for good ensuring everyone has the right to expect the pursuit of happiness to be real and realized?

I want to link the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s (ASALH) 2023 theme for Black History Month, “Black Resistance,” to Juneteenth. How might you or I connect Black resistance to freedom and liberation? How might an individual and their conspirator(s) ensure people have a voice and influence? I invite people to learn what it means to take space and make space. Explore the “both/and” of taking space and making space. How does it make you feel? Do you feel at ease and/or restricted? If you feel restriction and/or fear, where is it coming from? See if you can feel the texture of it, process it and let it go, allowing space to be human with other humans.

I will close by asking a question. What is your commitment to liberation? Liberation can take many forms, including economic stability and jobs, access to quality education and health care, neighborhood and housing, or social and community environments, with many of these intersecting and overlapping. What is your request of yourself, your colleagues and your institutions to support truth-telling, belonging and our collective humanity (liberation)?

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ELAM is a core program of the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa. The Institute continues the legacy of advancing women in medicine that began in 1850 with the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the nation's first women's medical school and a predecessor of today's Drexel University College of Medicine.