Statement on Juneteenth Becoming a Federal Holiday

This week, President Joseph Biden signed legislation that establishes June 19, Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The day commemorates June 19, 1865, the day word of their emancipation reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas – more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln and months after the formal conclusion of the Civil War. Even though freedom had been achieved by law first through the Emancipation Proclamation and later with the passage of the 13th Amendment in January 1865, in practice, many African Americans continued to fight the oppressive hand of slavery and racism to that point. More than 150 years have passed since those consequential events and yet the effects of systemic racism and the push for equality and equity continues to this day.  

We at Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. applaud the bipartisan actions taken by the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and President Biden to make this commemoration a reality. This commemoration aligns with our work as an organization guided by a mission of "Serving Humanity to Honor God.”

We believe that to improve the wellness of the least served and fully live out our mission we must recognize the inequities inherent in our communities that contribute to poor health outcomes. Inequities revolving around maternal and infant health, chronic stress, trauma, education, food security, safe housing and financial wealth have resulted in vast differences in life expectancy and quality of life for people living in the 74 counties we serve. 

The disenfranchisement of people of color in our community through policies and practices contributing to systemic racial oppression denies individuals the opportunity to reach their full potential for health and life, and does harm to all families, preventing every community from thriving. 

This Juneteenth, we will celebrate the progress achieved and, in keeping with our Methodist faith, we will continue to honor the gifts that every racial group and culture bring to our total life. We reaffirm our commitment to lead and to stand with our partners, patients, clients, and community in rejecting all expressions of racism and policies and practices that erode inclusion and diminish health equity for all.