June 19th is Juneteenth. But what is Juneteenth?

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture,

Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas.

In light of the issues facing the Black community, Juneteenth has been elevated as an official holiday to commemorate this event in American history. Today, the holiday serves as a reminder of the event and provides Americans with the opportunity to reflect on and wrestle with the history and legacy of this country. In addition, it serves as a moment to honor and celebrate black excellence and centers conversation on remaining challenges and issues when it comes to racial justice.

At Multiplying Good, we believe service is a solution. A solution to social issues and problems, an avenue to connect us with others and learn from our differences, and an opportunity for personal growth. Over the course of the last year, many of the youth in our Students In Action program, and Jefferson Award recipients from across the country, have focused their service on racial justice, using their voice to educate, and provide ways for others to get involved and take action for positive social change.

In honor of Juneteenth, here are a few of their stories.


Cooper High School—MN

This Students In Action team sprang into action after the murder of Daunte Write, a young man who lived just down the road from their local school. In a week, they planned and implemented a 115-school walkout, complete with artwork, posters, speakers, and a moment of silence to honor Daunte's life.

The group shared, "We hope that we no longer have to have walkouts for social issues, but if we need to, our voices are heard, especially if everyone listens. As young adults, we will eventually need to be the people that lead this country, and with this group of empowered and educated students, there's no doubt in my mind it won't be an amazing future for this country."


Saugus High School—MA

The SIA team at Saugus High School continues to educate their primarily white school and town about racism, provide opportunities to make the curricula more representative of the different groups, and advocate against policies and practices that are harmful to people of color. This year, the team won a grant of $5000 from Teaching Tolerance to purchase books with diverse characters and touching on a broader range of themes and read them over zoom to youth in local elementary schools. In addition, they created a Black History Month video to educate folks in their school about black activists and influencers that have been overlooked in the classroom. They then connected these stories to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the struggle as it exists today. Finally, team members researched the figures and shared the video with their whole school.

The group shared, "We got a lot of positive feedback from not only the teachers, but the students as well, and it felt amazing knowing that people took something away from our project."


Joy Flynn, KBSW

Over 1,000 people attended the action in May 2020 that Joy Flynn organized in downtown Santa Cruz, bringing the community together peacefully to stand against systemic racism and social injustice. Joy, 2021 Jefferson Award winner from Multiplying Good Media Partner KBSW, works with the Santa Cruz Police Department on policing policy reforms and is facilitating conversations about race to provide recommendations to the Capitola City Council. With her work declaring racism as a public health crisis, she has affected countless lives as she has pushed to ensure that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is geared towards the communities most affected. Joy also serves as an advisor to a new collaboration called Black Health Matters and is a founding member of the Santa Cruz County Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity.


Bushwick Leaders High School—NY

The SIA team at Bushwick Leaders High School worked on a range of projects that focused on elevating issues of racial justice. Following the Capitol Hill Riots, they created a dialogue space to help students process and discuss the events. Through the conversation, youth were able to share their feelings about police response to protest and contrast how protestors in the Black Lives Matter movement were treated vs. those at the Capitol Hill Riot. In addition, the team planned and implemented a Black History Month event to educate their peers in a fun and informative manner about influential figures in Black History that are often overlooked. Leveraging Kahoot and Padlet, participants shared their favorite black role models and learned about others they may not have known about.

The group shared: "Students deserve to learn more about Black History and see role models that look like them! There is no history without black history! They deserve to learn it in a fun way too! That is why we chose this opportunity to make a presentation where they could learn and play."


Fishers High School—IN

Youth from Fishers High School in Indiana focused on educating their primarily white, upper-middle-class community about equity within schools by creating a podcast. The podcast, "You Broke it. Let's Fix It," focuses on helping people understand what equity is and isn't—and why it is nothing to be afraid of.

The group shared: "Our work isn't finished. As individuals and as an SIA team, we still have a long way to go in recognizing the many roles we play in upholding systems of oppression and in undoing those inequitable systems. But in creating a resource addressing our local equity needs, we were able to apply a large issue to our small city, ensuring our entire community can engage meaningfully and respectfully on the topic of equity and its importance within our schools."


Individuals and groups across Multiplying Good's network planned and facilitated service work that helped empower, educate, and engage others in learning and action around racial justice and equity. On Juneteenth, we celebrate and recognize their work and share their stories to inspire others to get engaged.



Works Cited

“The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth.” National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian, nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth.