What Juneteenth Really Means

June 17, 2021

Elevating the truth and fighting for Black liberation.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

To Freedom

On June 19, 1865—a full two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation—the end of chattel slavery became a reality for the enslaved people of Texas.

For the first time this year, Juneteenth is an official federal holiday—a celebration of Black resilience and a recognition of the long, still-incomplete journey to freedom.

“For too long, we have been sold a rosy version of America’s racial history. Juneteenth is a reminder that the story from our grade-school history books is not the whole story,” write Roosevelt’s Mariama Badjie and Kyle Strickland.

Juneteenth is a reminder that racial justice requires more than symbolic gestures alone.

“This moment demands that we tell the whole truth, including the brutal history of white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence against Black, brown, and Indigenous communities. It demands that we take action.” 

Read “Juneteenth: Freedom, Liberation, and Reckoning.”


Manage the Boom, Don’t Fight It

“Inflation can be a genuine problem—if not now, then perhaps soon. But it’s a challenge that can be managed, not a terrifying monster to be avoided at all costs,” Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal and J.W. Mason write in a New York Times guest essay Ezra Klein called “an extremely wise, clear piece.”

“What we should be scared of is missing our greatest opportunity in a generation: to use both low-cost, debt-financed federal investments in our infrastructure and revenues from taxes on the wealthy to deal with our deepest and longstanding problems—economic stagnation, entrenched inequality, and climate change. The coming years could be remembered as the birth of a dynamic, more egalitarian US economy. We just have to avoid getting spooked by the bumps along the way.” Read on.


10 Ideas for Student-Powered Change

This week, the Roosevelt Network released its 13th annual 10 Ideas student policy journal, which features the research and policy proposals of students across the country. As Roosevelt Network National Director Katie Kirchner writes in the journal’s opening letter, “At its core, policy is a mechanism for realizing the dreams we have for our communities. The ideas in this journal dream of safety, of justice, of accountability. They respond to the last 15 months and push us beyond our current reality toward something better.” 

Among this year’s ideas: improving voter access for historically underrepresented communities in Massachusetts and implementing restorative justice practices in in-school suspension frameworks in Missouri. Read more.


Mourning Ambassador William vanden Heuvel

Roosevelt was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, our board chair emeritus, who passed away on June 15 at the age of 91.

“Our leader—amazing, inspiring, and effective—has passed, and we will miss him. New York will miss him! He leaves a legacy of a purpose-driven life, and I am grateful for his devotion to my grandfather and the ideals he fought for,” said Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Roosevelt Institute board chair. 

Learn more about his life and legacy.


What We’re Reading

What the Rich Don’t Want to Admit about the Poor [feat. Roosevelt’s Naomi Zewde, Kyle Strickland, and Darrick Hamilton]New York Times

Black Women Owe 22% More in Student Debt Than White Women, on Average – CNBC

Why Many Americans Don’t See the Racial Wealth Gap – FiveThirtyEight

On LGBTQ+ Equal Pay Day, the US Still Doesn’t Know the Size of the Wage GapThe 19th