The Alliance for Early Success joins our neighbors across the country in the commemoration of Juneteenth, the century-old-at-least holiday celebrating the real end of American enslavement – the day, two years after emancipation, that the last enslaved Americans learned of their freedom. The end of our nation’s foundational atrocity was won with generations of courage and bloodshed and is a true cause for celebration.
But we cannot mark this important day without saying clearly that the threads of slavery are still very much a part of our nation’s fabric. Racism remains entrenched in our country’s systems – both in our policies and in the comfortable habits that perpetuate inequity.
As a national community of advocates who work for policies that help young children and their families reach their full potential, we believe that dismantling these structures is not necessary in addition to our work for young children and their families – rather, it is central to that work. We must name and then actively work to dismantle the inveterate racism that denies opportunity to many of us and many of our neighbors.
Since last Juneteenth, the Alliance has adopted an all-new theory of change that makes this commitment clear and central to our work. We have launched a racial equity learning program that will give grantees in every state the opportunity to participate in a six-month journey focused on their internal organizational racial equity awareness and support them to create or deepen anti-racist policies and practices. We kicked off a peer community for BIPOC emerging professionals in early childhood policy, and we have continued our internal racial equity learning curriculum. We have hosted experts on messaging equity and disaggregating data, and convened a group that developed and released nine consensus principles for investing in more equitable early care and education.
So today we join our neighbors in celebrating the end of legally sanctioned enslavement in our country – and invite everyone to join us in committing to actively eliminating its effects.