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Marcfirst Celebrates: Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth! This day is a celebration of African American freedom and achievement and promotes learning about African American history and culture


History and Timeline of Juneteenth and the abolition of slavery  

Juneteenth (June 19th) is a holiday used to recognize the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to free those still enslaved two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. While most people believe the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, it could only be enforced in the North, where many were already in support of freeing the slaves. The civil war ended in April two years after the proclamation. That June, troops arrived in Texas to enforce the proclamation (and, by that time, the 13th amendment which legally abolishes slavery), ensuring freedom to 250,000 enslaved people. Juneteenth is now widely recognized as the official end to slavery in the United States.


While learning about these historical events, it is important to listen to the voices of people that are a part of these communities. With that in mind, we will be featuring present day activist Vilissa Thompson, who is a person with disabilities in the Black community.  


Vilissa Thompson is a social worker, writer, and activist.

Below is her bio that is featured on her website Ramp Your Voice!:  

Vilissa Thompson is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) from Winnsboro, SC.  Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization focused on promoting self-advocacy and strengthening empowerment among disabled people. Being a Disability Rights Consultant, Writer, & Activist affords Vilissa the opportunity to be a prominent leader and expert in addressing and educating the public and political figures about the plight of disabled people, especially Black women and femmes with disabilities... Everything she does revolves around being unapologetically herself - Black, disabled, and making good trouble to shake up the status quo.”  


If you’re interested in Vilissa’s work, she co-hosts a podcast called Wheelin' & Dealin' that talks about politics from the perspective of people who are disabled in the Black community. Also, a recent blog post of hers talks about the representation of slavery in the media today and can be read here. 


We are so appreciative of activists like Vilissa who are willing to use their experience and knowledge to speak about and educate others on these topics. Even today, it is important to be aware of and continue to learn about the past as it still has a big effect on the world currently. Use this Juneteenth to keep learning about African American history and culture and to celebrate the African American community!  


About the Authors:

Hailey Meneses is a student double majoring in Secondary Education and History at Illinois Wesleyan University. She aims to teach Special Education in the future and hopes that with her time at Marcfirst she can learn about and spread awareness to diverse issues and topics through blog writing and all other responsibilities as an intern. 

Anja Schrag is an English Literature and Theatre Arts student at Illinois Wesleyan University. She is excited to be using her literary and research experience as an English student and a dramaturg to write these blogs and help spread information about relevant topics.  

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