News Juneteenth Reflections: Renewing Our Commitment to Educational Equity and Justice

Dear Community,

As we commemorate Juneteenth, our hearts and minds are drawn to the historical significance of this day. Juneteenth represents a critical moment in our nation’s history, when the promise of freedom finally reached all corners of our land, emancipating those who had long been enslaved. However, this day also serves as a reminder of the work that still lies ahead in our collective pursuit of true equality and justice.

Juneteenth symbolizes the perseverance and resilience of a people who, despite facing unimaginable hardships, never lost sight of their inherent right to freedom. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. That  delayed news of emancipation echoes forward to the experiences of countless Black families who, even today, await the arrival of a society that honors their full potential.

Just as the righteous cause of emancipation was a catalyst for change, we are inspired to renew our commitment to the pursuit of educational equity. Throughout our history, we have witnessed the transformative power of education in the fight for civil rights and equal opportunity. 

We remember the Little Rock Nine, who, with unwavering determination, walked through the doors of Central High School in Arkansas, defying hatred and bigotry. Their bravery continues to inspire us as we advocate for inclusive and welcoming learning environments that celebrate the diversity and richness of every student. We reflect on the heroic efforts of trailblazers like Ruby Bridges, the first black child to integrate an all-white elementary school in Louisiana. Her journey was not just a solitary act of courage, but a beacon of hope for generations to come. 

Denver holds our own stories of resilience and progress in the pursuit of educational equity. From the Nole Resolution passed by the DPS Board of Education in 1968, which called for a plan to desegregate public schools in Denver, to the landmark case of Keyes v. School District No. 1, which saw the federal government intervene to dismantle school segregation in our own backyard, the struggle for educational justice reverberated across our communities.

We also remember the Chicano movement, which fought for inclusive and culturally responsive education. The historic Crusade for Justice, led by the visionary Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, advocated for bilingual education and the recognition of cultural heritage. Their activism paved the way for a more inclusive educational landscape that honors the diverse identities and histories of our students.

Juneteenth reminds us of the urgency to address the disparities that persist within our education system. We envision a future where ZIP codes do not determine the quality of education a child receives, where every student, regardless of their background, can thrive and realize their dreams.

At Denver Families, we believe that by engaging with families, educators, and community members, we can shape an educational landscape that celebrates the brilliance and potential of every child. We draw inspiration from the leaders who have paved the way before us and those who continue to champion the rights of all children. We stand alongside the families who yearn for their children to receive an education that empowers them to soar to new heights. 

As we commemorate Juneteenth, let us reflect on the progress we have made, while  also recognizing  the work that remains. Let us recommit to the fight for educational equity, understanding that the liberation of all children from the shackles of educational inequality is intertwined with the broader struggle for justice.

In the spirit of Juneteenth, let us unite, uplift, and empower.

Clarence Burton Jr.

Denver Families for Public Schools’ CEO