Contributed by Dr. Al Cohen, Chair of the Capital Region ESD 113 Board of Directors.
The month of June is full of significant events:
- There are graduation ceremonies and parties.
- June is the most popular month for weddings and wedding receptions.
- We display our flag on June 14 — Flag Day.
- The beginning of Summer is June 20, and
- Father’s Day always falls on Sunday, the third week of June
Perhaps Kool and the Gang had the month of June in their minds when they sang the song Celebration.
In my opening remarks today, I would like to share a few comments about two special events that occur in June that may not be as familiar as those more traditional celebrations. My remarks emerged from our goals “Grow Our People” and “Eradicating Racism”.
LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other orientations. In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which LGBTQ Americans were commonly subjected. This uprising marks the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ Americans.
Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, concerts, workshops, festivals and other celebratory events where the Rainbow flags is prominently displayed. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ and other orientations have had on history, locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to festive celebrations, memorials are held during June for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS.
Even though we have much work to do to educate members of our communities, it is encouraging to note greater acceptance and support for LGBTQ and others orientations is occurring, but more work is required. It is imperative to insure the physical, social and emotional security is a guaranteed human right for members of the LGBTQ communities. Our goal to “Grow Our People” is in alignment with our work in educating staff and others for the betterment of humanity. Our efforts continues.
Secondly, let me share a few comments regarding the celebration of Juneteenth. The name Juneteenth is a contraction of June and nineteenth. Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day. It is a holiday emancipating those who had been enslaved in the United States. The holiday was first observed in Galveston, Texas in 1866 at church gatherings and food festivals. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The reason for this gap in time had to do with the remoteness of Texas and the difficulty of enforcing Lincoln’s proclamation.
The holiday today is more than about abolishing slavery. It is about fighting to end racism that prevents equity and creates disproportionate suffering and harms that Black Americans face. We all know that much work is still ahead. The discriminatory practices that Black Americans face each and everyday are well documented. Our work to “Eradicate Racism” is a most worthy goal and one that requires serious attention.
So, let us add Pride Month and Juneteenth to our June celebrations.