SOS Children’s Villages Illinois’ Racial Justice Committee hosted a week-long Juneteenth celebration to uplift and educate children in foster care. Throughout the week, educational activities, celebrations, and resources are being shared at SOS Illinois’ Lockport and Roosevelt Square Village locations to recognize the importance of Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19 each year.
SOS Illinois is among the growing number of states, cities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations recognizing the significance of Juneteenth. This was reflected in the SOS Illinois Board of Directors’ decision to approve Juneteenth as an official company holiday reaffirming the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the organization. The SOS Illinois company holiday was observed on Friday, June 18, 2021. This is particularly notable as it is the first year in which this date has been added to the company’s list of paid holidays and will be so from now on.
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed, which came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Honoring Juneteenth is more complicated than just recognizing the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. It is a day to continue fighting to end racism in the U.S. that prevents equity, creates disproportionate suffering, and harms Black adults and children across the globe. As an organization, SOS Illinois is committed to continued education and advocacy to seek justice, fairness, and lasting freedom.
“We are intentionally encouraging and stimulating conversations on the important collective memory of our nation of the impact and cost of racial slavery in America,” said SOS Illinois CEO Tim McCormick. “The work of our Racial Justice Committee continues to uplift and support this very notion, that as we care for children in foster care, we too can make meaningful contributions to act on behalf of all of those whose lives are treated with biases and oppression.”
Celebrations at SOS Illinois
In celebrating Juneteenth, SOS Illinois honors the significance of the events which took place on June 19, 1865 with the announcement of General Order No. 3 proclaiming the end to slavery in Texas. Also known as Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is a day of celebration. Week-long activities included flag making crafts, Juneteenth Jubilees, and resources for children to learn about the history of Juneteenth. SOS Illinois offered the following activities, celebrations, and resources:
6/14 – Juneteenth Flag Decorating
6/15 – Learning the History of Juneteenth
6/16 – Village-wide celebration at 12 Noon that will include outdoor games, educational activities including passport and sticker stations, recorded theatre on playing Juneteenth history, and food.
Roosevelt Square Village:
6/19 – Held on Juneteenth, the Village hosted a Juneteenth Jubilee at 11AM that included outdoor games, crafts, educational activities, and food.
“The Racial Justice Committee has been working diligently to raise both the organization’s consciousness and voice to act on behalf of justice and equity in our world today,” shared SOS Illinois Chief Operating Officer Delphine Rankin. “We have become a better agency and a stronger Village as a result of this process; and we are eager to share the activities and resources with our children and families in recognition of Juneteenth. By advocating for social justice reforms both within the organization and surrounding communities, we are teaching the children in our care, that we stand as one against racism and fear.”
The SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee is sharing a variety of resources and local activities and events that families may want to be aware of and/or participate in:
Note: there’s an ad at the end of this one, but it still offers great insight.
In addition to the SOS Illinois celebrations at Lockport Village (6/16) and Roosevelt Square Village (6/19) there is a local neighborhood celebration in Hamilton Park on the 19th as well:
The SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee
Established in May of 2020, the SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee is working to shed light on the systems of inequity that disproportionately impact people of color, socioeconomic deprivation, poor education, and lack of access to resources. The committee has been working behind the scenes to determine the best approach SOS Illinois can take to address the issues the organization faces today, in particular working to reunite families.
The SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee’s first initiatives have been to develop Black History Month activities aimed at educating staff and children in its care, as well as a larger project focused on developing a parent handbook that will be provided to birth parents, Foster Parents, and parents in communities served through our programs and services. The handbook will address topics such as: educating parents about their legal rights; training on navigating the court system & DCFS; and advising on utilizing community resources.
Please join SOS Illinois in safely celebrating this occasion and take the opportunity to educate yourself and others on the historical significance of Juneteenth.