(Harrisburg – June 19, 2020) – Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Army soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War was over and enslaved Black people were free. It was two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, 155 years later, we must continue to celebrate the freedom, dignity, and voices of the Black community, to combat the lingering effects of racism that have been institutionalized throughout American society. The marginalization and mistreatment of Black people will improve as all Americans stand together and work toward becoming allies in the fight for equality and racial justice. In the words Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools believes that a quality public education for all students, regardless of their zip code, is necessary to combat racism and inequality in our communities. Charter school leaders and their staff have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of Black children by providing them with an education that meets their unique needs. In fact, nearly 43 percent of Pennsylvania’s charter school students are Black, compared to 15 percent in school districts statewide. We stand with those who are committed to see change happen in our communities and for the students we serve.

While Juneteenth commemorates the past, it is an opportunity for us all to look towards the future. We encourage our schools, students and families to learn more and take time today to reflect on the racial injustices that exist in our country and make a commitment to take steps toward equality and justice in their own communities.

Today, we celebrate the history and stories of the Black community.  And, as educators we have a duty and responsibility to use education as the vehicle for continuous celebration of Black people to promote change. The reality of tomorrow cannot look like today, so we must seek to reimagine the learning environment to promote diversity and inclusion everyday.