Published: June 19, 2024

As we celebrate Juneteenth, a day of profound significance and historical importance for our community and our nation, let us remember that Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, a milestone that symbolizes freedom, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of justice.

On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, news of freedom finally reached the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas. This day, Juneteenth, represents the end of a dark chapter in American history and the beginning of a journey towards equality and civil rights. It is a reminder of the incredible strength and perseverance of those who endured unimaginable hardships and yet continued to fight for their freedom and dignity.

Today, as we honor Juneteenth, it is crucial to recognize the vital contributions of Black workers to the labor movement. From the fields to the factories, from the railroads to the classrooms, Black workers have been the backbone of this nation’s economic progress. Despite facing systemic discrimination and exploitation, Black workers have continuously organized, protested, and demanded fair treatment and equal opportunities.

One cannot speak of the labor movement without mentioning the pivotal role of Black workers. Their efforts laid the foundation for many of the labor rights we take for granted today. Figures like A. Philip Randolph, who organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Bayard Rustin, a key strategist behind the March on Washington, were instrumental in pushing for labor rights and racial equality. Their work was not just about better wages and working conditions; it was about securing human dignity and breaking down the barriers of segregation and discrimination.

Black workers have been at the forefront of advocating for fair labor practices, leading strikes, forming unions, and demanding respect and equality in the workplace. Their activism has brought about significant changes, including the establishment of fair wages, safer working conditions, and the right to organize. These victories have not only benefited Black workers but have also strengthened the labor movement as a whole, fostering solidarity and unity among all workers.

However, the struggle is far from over. Black workers continue to face disparities in wages, employment opportunities, and workplace treatment. Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight for justice and equality. It calls upon us to reflect on our progress, recognize the challenges that remain, and recommit ourselves to the cause of true equality.

As we celebrate this historic day, let us honor the legacy of Black workers who have contributed so much to the labor movement. Let us remember their sacrifices, acknowledge their achievements, and continue to support their efforts for justice and equality in the workplace. Together, we can build a future where every worker, regardless of race, is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Juneteenth is not just a celebration of freedom; it is a call to action. It is a reminder that the fight for equality is ongoing and that the contributions of Black workers are integral to our shared progress. Let us stand in solidarity, honor the past, and work towards a future where freedom and justice prevail for all.


Ibrahim Coulibaly,

SEIU 503 AFRAM, Secretary