On Juneteenth, the Farmworker Association of Florida recognizes the importance of this holiday to the nation and to the African American former farmworkers in our community. The struggles and horrors of slavery are not far removed, as many of our community members are descended from enslaved ancestors and from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who were “enslaved” under the exploitative systems of indentured servitude and sharecropping.
We mark Juneteenth every June 19th as a celebration and commemoration of the end of enslavement in the United States, two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all freed people were no longer considered “property” and whose forced labor was exploited as the means to wealth for rich, white landowners. That such an act was needed is testament to how deeply entrenched was the racism of that time, the legacy of which still taints our society and our institutions in 2022. In fact, it was not until last year that the day became an official federal holiday
Forms of forced labor continue to exist
As we mark 157 years since that moment in 1865, we recognize that while enslavement is officially no longer legal in the United States, the racism that fueled enslavement continues to plague us as a nation, and we see it in many disparities impacting minority or BIPOC communities in the United States. It is also important to note that while the Emancipation Proclamation also officially ended enslavement, other forms of forced labor continue to exist in this country. One of them is the use of prison labor, but our racialized food system, wage disparities, and reliance on imported labor are also legacies of that history.
Towards a more equitable and just food and economic system
I invite all of FWAF’s members and supporters to take a moment to reflect on what Juneteenth means for each of us as members of our communities, and I ask that we all consider how we have benefited from the legacy of enslavement and commit ourselves to work together for a more equitable and just food and economic system.
Justice for All!
Farmworker Association of Florida