Commemorating Juneteenth

Contributed by AAoM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

In 2021 the United States Congress officially made Juneteenth a Federal Holiday. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when Union troops in Galveston Bay, Texas announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day became known as Juneteenth, it is our country’s “second Independence Day” and the day our nation truly became free.


To commemorate this day the AAoM staff visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The staff received a guided tour of the And Still We Rise exhibit, learned about the Green Book and the Tuskegee Airmen, and saw artists’ depictions of Barack Obama’s presidency. Visiting the Charles H. Wright Museum has left a profound impact on the employees, challenging their perspectives and prompting deep reflection. Employees were asked to document their experience at the museum. Here are some of their personal reflections:


“I feel like this experience has helped me reflect on the experiences of my ancestors and has really highlighted a portion of the struggles that they’ve faced.”


“The experience continues to solidify the fact that more education needs to happen regarding American history. We can’t build a better future without understanding the mistakes from the past and how those mistakes contribute to the systemic barriers in present day”


“A powerful moment during the museum tour for me, was the point when the tour guide asked us how many slaves were taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade, and hearing the answer “0”. It is so important to recognize that everyone impacted during this horrific tragedy was an individual with talents, creativity, an occupation and made a contribution to society. They were people, and it really opened my eyes to view the slave trade in this way. It truly shifted my perspective and made me aware of the magnitude of the slave trade, but also how many beautiful souls and talent was present”