What is Juneteenth and why is it celebrated? Juneteenth is a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. In the confusion and turmoil as the Civil War drew to a close, many black people did not immediately learn of General Robert E. Lee’s April, 1865 surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia. In fact, Texans fought on through May, when they finally learned that the war had truly ended. When Union Army General Gordon Granger landed at the Texas Port City of Galveston to take command of the military district of Texas, one of his first actions after landing in June 1865 was to read General Order #3 to the people of Galveston. General Granger read, “The people of Texas are informed…all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves…” Thus, June 19th (Juneteenth) – became the emancipation date of those long suffering for freedom, the newly freed slaves of Texas. This tradition of celebration has remained strong well into the 21st century and is celebrated in many states throughout the nation.  Juneteenth is honored like the Fourth of July, with prayer services, inspirational speeches, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, stories from former slaves, picnics, games, rodeos, dances and festivals.The celebration of Juneteenth is a multi-cultural recognition of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery. For African-Americans, it is a tribute to the strength, endurance and faith of their ancestors. For all of America it is a reminder that none of us is free until all of us are free!

Juneteenth in Michigan

June 2005, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation officially designating the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Michigan. Senate Bill 384 (PA 48) was sponsored by Senator Martha G. Scott. Michigan was the 18th state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.” Source: https://www.lansingjuneteenthcelebration.org/ 

Get Involved

Black-Owned Restaurants We encourage you to support local Black-Owned restaurants!
Here is a list to get you started: 
The Candied Yam
The Chez Olga
Creston Brewery
Daddy Pete’s BBQ
Forty Acres
GoJo Ethipoan Cuisine
The Honeybird
Irie Kitchen
Malamiah Juice Bar
Boston Square Ice Cream
The  Black Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of Black-Owned restaurants, shops, artists, and local venues to visit. They have created a great directory that is searchable by category. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within WMPC

WMPC established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee in October 2019 to advance our strategic goal of disrupting and dismantling racist policies, procedures, and practices within the foster care system. We work collaboratively with Inclusive Performance Strategies on developing tangible ways to achieve our goal of creating an inclusive work environment and advancing racial equity in the foster care system. Our first accomplishment was creating an Inclusion Filter that prompts questions/criteria for consideration of the different situatedness of our diverse community members before making decisions.  

WMPC’s statement on recent ratial injustices

“WMPC joins our community in grief, frustration, and outrage as we process the traumatic deaths of George Floyd, Amhaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others who have been victims of violence because of the color of their skin. This is what a culture of historical and systemic racism looks like, and it needs to change now.”  Find the full statement here. 

PQI sheds light on the overrepresentation of children of color in the foster care system

 Disproportionality of children of color is an issue that is prevalent in child welfare systems nationwide. Disproportionality in foster care can be understood as the level to which groups of children are present in the system at a higher or lower percentage than their presence in the general population. Disproportionality is measured by a number indicating the ratio of one population to another, where 1.0 indicates that the ratio is equal (i.e., a 1:1 relationship). Overrepresentation is indicated by any number higher than 1.0, and underrepresentation is indicated by any number less than 1.0In January 2018, just after the formation of WMPC, Black/African American children were 3.2 times overrepresented in the Kent County foster care system compared to Kent County’s general population under 19 years of age. The overrepresentation of children of color in foster care is a symptom of institutional racism and result of disproportionate access by communities of color to resources, services, and wealth. By tracking disproportionality of children of color and corresponding inequities in outcomes, WMPC highlighted an area requiring a strategic and concentrated focus for itself and its partners and established disrupting racist systems, policies, and practices that perpetuate discrimination and racial disparities as one of its strategic goals. 

WMPC and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have taken action steps to champion solutions to this issue and have seen progress in reductions of overrepresentation of Black/African American children in foster care in the past two years. In January 2019, Black/African American children were 2.8 times overrepresented in the Kent County foster care system and in April 2020, they were overrepresented at a rate of 2.7. WMPC is called to address racial equity through its commitment to social justice, a core value of WMPC, and of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The NASW Code of Ethics outlines the commitment of social workers to “pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.”  As WMPC works to improve outcomes for children and families in child welfare, it is using targeted strategies to address disproportionality and disparities which will ultimately improve outcomes for all children.

Resources and Trainings

Here is a lists of various articles, webinars, and movies: 

Begin the Conversation

How is your organization beginning the conversation around race equity? Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions to begin: 

1.)         What are your worries right now?

2.)         What are your hopes?

3.)         What do you need from (your organization)?

4.)         How can (your organization) better advance racial justice?

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