During the Black Girl Magic Juneteenth Jubilee Luncheon on June 13, 2023, PEF Vice President of Academic and Community Initiatives Dr. Beverly Mathis shared the importance and responsibility of celebrating Juneteenth and how we should show up on this day. Her full speech is included below. 

Juneteenth is a BLESSING!!!

Juneteenth is not a fixed holiday like the 4th of July. It’s not a neutral holiday where you just “show up.” Juneteenth requires you to be present, in the moment, and very specific about why you are showing up to celebrate it. It’s important for everyone to remember where it came from, but also how it has developed in other parts of the African diaspora within and outside of the United States.

Juneteenth is important because it reminds us of what we came through and what we can achieve. Juneteenth places Black people at the center of the conversation about freedom and its meaning and manifestation in this nation.

Juneteenth should really be a rallying call for all of us to think about the meaning of freedom, particularly regarding African Americans, as well as to the nation and the rest of the world.

Juneteenth is here so that we can teach people who don’t always have access to this knowledge in their homes, or in their schools. It gives us a space, not only physical, not only external, but a space in our hearts and in our minds.

Dr. Shennett Garrett-Scott reminds us that “Juneteenth is a small but important moment in American history. The moment is important because it is, in many ways, a microcosm of the struggle for African Americans, in particular, but, Americans in general to live out the democratic promises of this country. Juneteenth takes a hard look at the bitter and the sweet of our collective past, present, and future. The pain and the promise. Freedom denied, freedom created.”

I believe, and know that my blackness is a challenge, a privilege, and a beautiful responsibility. Especially when I think of Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley in the 1963 church bombing.

So now, if you’re a living, breathing black woman in America, you have to choose every day to live the dreams of others that were unable to get here! It’s ingrained in us. It’s also freedom for us. We’re educated because we choose to be, and because we need to be.

Black Girl Magic – is excelling in spite of…..Black Girl Magic is: continually striving when people cut us down. Black Girl Magic is: always moving forward as we are told, “no.” Black Girl Magic is continuing to do the work, even when others “copy” our work without giving us credit. Black Girl Magic is being kind, working hard even when progress is interrupted. Black Girl Magic is

Juneteenth is FREEDOM for ALL….what are we doing with this blessing?