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Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom

Concorde Staff

Concorde Staff

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Updated June 18, 2024. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
Juneteenth Freedom Day text on green red and black pattern background with torch overlay

Continuing the March Toward Equity: The Significance of Juneteenth at Concorde

When Juneteenth became a holiday, this inspired many to promote diversity, equity and inclusion practices.

Acknowledging Juneteenth is vital in understanding and addressing systemic inequalities.

Concorde joined this effort in many ways, and one was by marking Juneteenth as a holiday for all its students and employees.
 

What is Juneteenth?

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger declared in Texas that all slaves were free. This proclamation came two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, ordering all slaves to be freed. The delayed response symbolizes the prolonged struggle for freedom and justice faced by African Americans. But Juneteenth isn't just about looking back; it's about pushing for a better tomorrow. Concorde had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Opal Lee, known as the "Grandmother of Juneteenth," who has worked hard to make Juneteenth a day that brings people together to fight for a better future for everyone, no matter their race or where they come from.
 

Interview with Dr. Opal Lee: On Diversity and Education

Concorde leadership had the chance to chat with Dr. Opal Lee about Juneteenth's significance for the Concorde community and the nation.

"After the murder of George Floyd, Concorde wanted to formalize the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. We wanted to put our words into action," VP of Student Affairs and DEI Co-Chair Nancy Jones stated. She continued, "Part of the goal here at Concorde is not only to educate our students but to make them well-rounded individuals, good community stewards, and hopefully they'll find a career that fits their cultural compass."

 

How Juneteenth Became a National Holiday

Dr. Opal Lee played a key role in making Juneteenth a national holiday. Her involvement started in 2016, at the age of 89. She began a campaign called "Opal's Walk to D.C." Dr. Opal Lee walked 2.5 miles in various places across the country. This symbolized the 2.5 years it took for news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach enslaved people in Texas. The Proclamation was signed in 1863​.

Her walks were not only symbolic; they also served to raise support and awareness for the cause. Dr. Opal Lee was dedicated to making June 19th a day of national remembrance. She collected signatures for a petition on Change.org. The petition gained wide public support with over 1.6 million signatures. Her efforts led to a historical milestone on June 17, 2021. Then, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. It recognizes June 19th as a federal holiday.

Her other efforts include starting a food bank, encouraging organic farming at Opal's Farm, and educating those in prison.

Because of the changes she's pushing for, Dr. Opal Lee was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, showing her worldwide influence.

Dr. Opal Lee’s lifelong commitment to civil rights and education and advocacy for Juneteenth has earned recognition. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her work has inspired many.
 

What Juneteenth Means to Concorde

Anita Jones


Anita Jones, Director of Nursing at our North Hollywood, California campus shared, “This is why I chose to work at Concorde. Dr. Opal Lee’s statements are a powerful reminder of the transformative power of education. It is not merely a personal achievement but a means to uplift others and contribute to the common good. Her words inspire individuals to pursue their educational goals with determination and to use their knowledge and skills in service to humanity. This holistic view of education underscores its value as a tool for personal and social empowerment, resilience, and community betterment!”
 

Rita Crayton


Rita Crayton, Academic Dean at our San Antonio, Texas campus shared, “As a Texas native, I am proud to work for an organization that recognizes the significance of Juneteenth as a nationally recognized holiday. In doing so, Concorde reaffirmed its core values. The holiday's incorporation required a financial commitment and renewed level of social responsibility by the organization. A firm message of remaining committed to producing healthcare professionals who understand the importance of integrity, respect for the individual, achievement, teamwork and customer service. Let’s mark Juneteenth by committing to self-care, community awareness and social equality. It’s clear that one person can make a difference.”
 

Reflecting on Juneteenth: A Commitment to Action and Celebration

Dr. Opal Lee reminds us that the fight against inequality must continue. "We have so many disparities. You know, we've already acquired Juneteenth now, national holiday, but we can't rest on our laurels," she emphasized. Her call to action, "I believe that each of us is responsible. And I suggest that everybody make himself a committee of one to dispel the disparities that we have," aligns with Concorde's ongoing efforts to promote fairness and inclusion in the community and beyond.
 

In Conclusion

Taking a cue from Dr. Opal Lee, Concorde's celebration of Juneteenth is more than just remembering a date in history. It's about committing to a place where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, which is important for healthcare workers who help people from all walks of life.

With cultural competence and inclusive training, Concorde is shaping healthcare professionals who’ll lead with integrity and compassion. This will drive transformative change in the communities they serve.

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