Ignacio Salazar, President, and CEO of SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc., issued the following statement to celebrate Juneteenth, 2022. This day is the first anniversary of this historical event as an official federal observance authorized by President Biden last year. The origin of Juneteenth dates back 156 years to June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, were finally freed, two months after the end of the U.S. Civil War. Federal troops were sent to free the enslaved people from those who vowed to keep them until armed Union troops arrived. Only then did the former owners comply with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln.
“SER National is proud and honored to join with millions of people across the United States and Puerto Rico in reflecting on the true meaning of this day. Juneteenth holds a special place in our hearts because it reminds us of the inherent yearning for freedom within each of us. This freedom is rooted deep in our human spirit and enables us to be uplifted, strengthened, and capable of enduring even the most challenging events in our lives. More than a century later, we can learn from the moving accounts of men, women, and children who held together after the end of the costliest war our nation has ever faced. They continued even after learning they were free while their owners kept them in shackles. Rather than rebel and be killed, these formerly enslaved people drew from the spiritual freedom within their hearts. They resisted through the resilience of their unwavering faith, knowing that release was near.
At SER National and throughout our SER Network of Affiliates, we sincerely believe that every individual has the inherent capacity to achieve, given opportunity, training, and effort. Like those courageous black Americans tasting freedom officially for the first time in their lives, the more than a million people we serve yearly experience the rewards of their resilience and perseverance. Many are free economically for the first time in their lives with new skills and purpose. They can begin to plan their futures for themselves and their families with nothing and no one to hold them back. Today, as in 1865, we stand at the edge of unlimited possibilities with the opportunity to break free from fear of the pandemic and work together to confront historical challenges. Also, our labor pool of willing workers is growing steadily, and our elected leaders are reckoning with issues that affect all of us, including public safety, economic stability, racial justice, and gender equity and equality.
Juneteenth, 1865 did not cure all our nation’s ills overnight. It would take time before formerly enslaved people broke through economic and social repression to achieve notable outcomes, like five who became elected leaders. Today, America is blessed to have advanced much farther, and we can celebrate and protect our freedoms for all.”