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Alliance for Early Success Juneteenth Statement on America’s Enduring Racial Disparities

Today, the team at the Alliance for Early Success joins our neighbors across the country in the commemoration of Juneteenth, the now-official holiday when we celebrate the practical end of legal enslavement in the United States. It has been 158 years since June 19, 1865, the day—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation—that the last enslaved Black Americans learned of their freedom. The end of the national atrocity of slavery is a true cause for celebration.

But what we cannot celebrate is the enduring impact of slavery and the ever-present ways it shapes the ways we live today. Racism remains entrenched in our country’s systems – both in our policies and in the comfortable habits that perpetuate inequity.

As a bipartisan, 50-state community of advocates who work for policies that help young children and their families reach their full potential, we believe that removing these pervasive barriers is central to that work. We recognize that individuals, organizations, and states are in different places when it comes to naming and addressing systemic racism, and our goal is to make space for everyone’s next step in their own equity journey—all while continuing to win and sustain supports that lay a strong foundation for young children’s healthy development. So at the Alliance, we are working more intensely than ever to advance racial equity for young children and their families across the country. Every child in every state.

We do this through equity-centered programming and skill-building, such as this recent webinar on Black maternal health disparities, and our annual CONNECT summit for advocates from across the country.  Our new community of practice on Centering Parent and Practitioner Power is giving state policy advocates new skills and strategies for centering lived experience, and our peer community for BIPOC emerging professionals in early childhood policy continues to grow. Overall, our state allies are increasing their attention to equity and lived experience — if you dive into our most recent 50-state impact report, you’ll see that more than half of our grantees now report the advocacy community in their state is racially diverse to a large or very large extent.

But most transformational for us at the Alliance is the emerging focus on what we call “power equity.” Our new theory of change centers antiracism and shared power with the goal of substantially growing a collaborative and equitable constituency for early childhood policy and investment. The six Child Care NEXT states are on the leading edge on this work and are beginning to demonstrate the impact that working in authentic coalition can have on policy outcomes. 

By next Juneteenth, we have a goal of making power equity even more central to our work.

So today we eagerly join in the celebration of the end of legal slavery in America. And we also recommit to addressing the policies and practices that, 158 years later, continue to perpetuate racial disparities in opportunity and outcomes.

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