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Black women applaud Juneteenth federal holiday vote, demand action for real change beyond symbolic gesture

In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda honors Juneteenth with new Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda

WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Senate voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday, celebrated annually on June 19th to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and to honor Black people’s continuing fight for true liberation. In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, which in collaboration with more than 30 Black women’s organizations and Reproductive Justice activists released its new Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda the same day as the vote, applauded the move toward finally making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

“This long-overdue formal recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is an important symbolic gesture,” said Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. “But we Black women need more than a federal holiday to dismantle the oppressive systems of white supremacy and patriarchy Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive individuals face.”

The most comprehensive policy vision for Black communities to date, the Agenda includes legislation that has already been introduced in Congress, such as the Momnibus, HEAL, Fair Wage, Equal Pay and REACH Acts, as well as policies that covers other aspect of the lives of Black people.

During Tuesday’s launch of the Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda, Howell, joined by a coalition of 30 Black productive justice organizations and numerous members of Congress, and demanded comprehensive legislative action on issues, including Black maternal health, economic and environmental justice, guaranteed minimum basic income, abortion access, mental health and, of course, voting rights.

“My lived experience has shown me the intersection of abortion rights, structural racism and the denial of Black women’s bodily autonomy,” said U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams. “The Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda proposes bold and innovative solutions that focus on the daily lives of Black women and non-binary individuals. I am proud to support the Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda because when we uplift and support Black women, we uplift all communities.”

Juneteenth has been celebrated as a state holiday in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Now that President Biden has signed the bill into law, this Saturday will be the first time June 19th will be celebrated as a national holiday.

“While we celebrate this new holiday, we must, of course, acknowledge the irony of legislators voting to celebrate the emancipation of Black people at the same time as their political party is passing legislation in 48 states to curtail our right to vote,” said Howell. “Eventually Republican senators and representatives will have to face their own hypocrisy as Black people cast our votes despite these barriers.”


In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national reproductive justice organization focused on lifting up the voices of Black women at the national and regional levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure reproductive justice for all women and girls. Our eight strategic partners include Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.

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