A note from Lou Giramma, Aspire Living & Learning CEO

We are celebrating Juneteenth at Aspire Living & Learning as a paid holiday for the first time this year. We made this change after asking ourselves why we have the holidays we do. What do we value as an organization and how does the celebration of a holiday reflect our commitment to those values?

Juneteenth is the oldest holiday in the U.S. commemorating the end of slavery. It takes place on the anniversary of the day that Union troops arrived in Texas and announced that enslaved people were now free. The date was June 19th, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It is an Independence Day for the country, and so we remember together the momentous step towards freedom. The day is also a reminder that some will fight long and hard to preserve a racist system - a system that serves a minority of wealth and power. It is also a reminder that in our efforts to empower every person that Aspire touches, we must take an active anti-racist stance in our daily words and actions.

As we move forward, we will ask ourselves more of the hard questions, questions about how our processes and systems contribute to inequities at Aspire. The answers to those questions will cause us to act to ensure that the diversity in our community is embraced and held in reverence and is reflected at all levels of the organization.

A new position to lead our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts has been funded in the FY22 budget. Aspire has also contracted with a consultant to help create this role and identify specific goals and strategies for achieving more equity and economic opportunity in the agency. I look forward to this work and ask you to join me in these efforts.

As Juneteenth approaches, there are many public opportunities for celebration and education in each state. Check out the Celebrations & Aspirations section of the newsletter to find events near you.
Have a happy, healthy, and reflective Juneteenth!

Find a Juneteenth celebration near you!

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Celebrating Juneteenth