Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger with a regiment of Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This event occurred two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863 but had yet to be enacted in the region.

On Juneteenth we celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and attributes of Black leaders, inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and hard workers who continuously contribute to the success of this nation. Yet tragically, as recent police brutality and violence have brought into focus, we are still plagued with racism and systemic inequities that are the underlying causes of homelessness. In San Francisco, Black/African Americans comprise 6% of the total population but account for 29% of youth experiencing homelessness and 37% of people experiencing homelessness overall.

At Larkin Street, we are devoted to systemic change and dismantling structures that perpetuate racism and oppress minority voices and experiences. We applaud recent efforts by Major London Breed to redirect funding from the San Francisco Police Department to historically underserved Black communities and support the recent decision that ends police response to non-criminal calls.

As we come together, let us recommit to building a more perfect union in which Black lives matter. We celebrate today in community with millions around the country in the hopes of eradicating racism indefinitely. We stand beside our brothers and sisters in this sacred creation.

Happy Juneteenth!