Juneteenth is a day in which we acknowledge and reflect on the horrific legacy of slavery while honoring those enslaved people who fought for freedom. It is also a day when we renew our vows to live freely and to fight the forces that seek to dismantle our hard-fought wins.
As John Lewis said: "Freedom is not a state; it is an act. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society."
The fight for liberation did not end on June 19, 1865. Nor did it end with the passages of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act nearly a century later. Although the battleground looks different in 2023, do not be deceived. Our constitutional rights are once again under attack, tucked deep inside a trojan horse of "states’ rights" and "voter integrity."
Our county, situated in a state that closed 750 polling locations after a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was overturned in 2013, is the direct target of legislation designed to strip away local control of elections, workers’ rights, and even the school system.
In a series of blatant power grabs this legislative session, state leadership approved two voting bills targeting our elections. These measures will eliminate the county’s chief election official and give oversight to the politically partisan secretary of state. Returning to a county clerk and tax assessor-collector model in a county where nearly 20 percent of its residents are Black is not just a nod to Jim Crow; it’s a tribute.
Injustice in Texas is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice in Harris County is a threat to justice everywhere.
Today is a day for reflection but also resolve. Although we’ve made incredible progress in the ongoing struggle for freedom, equality, and justice, our fight is far from won.
As our hard-fought freedoms are once again under attack, Juneteenth is a stark reminder that true democracy guarantees everyone the opportunity and the ability to build a better future for themselves.
We will settle for nothing less.