Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Though it has long been celebrated among the African American community, it is a history that has been marginalized and still remains largely unknown to the wider public. 

Though the Emancipation Proclamation was announced in 1863, there were still places where it could not be implemented due to Confederate control. Due to this, much of Texas would not be free until more than two years later. On June 19, 1865, 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The soldiers announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth” by the newly freed people of Texas and beyond. 

While those who were enslaved were told they were free in 1865, we know that African Americans continue to suffer greatly at the hands of the systems in our country. Black individuals and families are still living with disparate outcomes and are being held back by a system that perpetuates racism. Below are some examples of those disparities specifically in Kent County. 

  • Nearly 56% of African American families live in poverty. 
  • 77% of African American Kindergarten students are not ready for school. 
  • 20% of African American K-12 students are suspended every year compared to 4% of White students
  • 1 in 6 African American children were in the homeless system at some point in 2019. 
  • African American households make nearly $42,000 less than White households. 

These are not individual failings; this is an entire system failing these families. While they may seem like impossible problems to tackle, The KConnect network is working hard to dissolve these disparities and create an equitable system for everyone in our community. For example, when faced with the homeless data that indicated a true crisis among the African American community, KConnect, in partnership with over 100 cross-sector partners began a three-year process that resulted in the creation of a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of the racial disparities in our community.

As we make plans to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, please consider how you can best support the African American community. Whether it’s donating to Black-founded organizations, shopping at Black-owned businesses, or advocating for underrepresented communities, you can make an impact.

If you’re interested in learning more about how KConnect is addressing these disparities, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the staff members

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