BISC releases statement on the importance of recognizing Juneteenth and Defending Black Lives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s (BISC) Executive Director, Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, issued the following statement regarding the 155th Celebration of Juneteenth:
“Our people have been crying out nationwide for the past three weeks in uprisings for racial justice and against the white supremacy and anti-Blackness in our country. We are not just experiencing a critical turning point in our society, we are witnessing the creation of another world. Today on Juneteenth, 155 years after the final recognition of the full emancipation of enslaved people, we recognize and commit to highlighting and celebrating Black life, and the work that is underway to defend Black life.
Despite growing up in Texas, I was not taught the history of Juneteenth in my Texas history class. It was years later that I learned the significance of enslaved Texans having to wait more than two years before learning of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was more than two years before they learned they were free. Right now is a time where we must show that Black lives and Black history matters. Today is also a day to learn, uplift and empower the Black community, and make a commitment to fighting for Black liberation.
Weeks ago, BISC made a statement against the ongoing, state- and police-sanctioned violence against Black people by law enforcement. We said we would stand with Black leadership. But we did not go far enough. So today, we stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives in their call to defund police and invest in Black communities. As we divest from a militarized police force, we must invest those resources to ensure Black communities have jobs that pay a living wage, access to education, healthcare that includes mental health, public housing and so much more.
We have an opportunity to reimagine the role ballot measures play in public safety and investing in our communities. BISC will continue to fight against anti-Black bigotry and systemic racism by using ballot measures as a tool for people across the country to challenge and overcome the oppressive systems that have run rampant through our country for too long.”