Juneteenth National Independence Day, or more commonly known as Juneteenth, is here and provides us all with an opportunity to reflect upon this nation’s history and trajectory in the future. Juneteenth will be observed for a third time at the federal level, a fact that feels miraculous and is a sign of progress, despite the painfully deferred recognition.
By now, most of us are aware of the incomplete and erroneous history lesson we received in classes across America as it relates to the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s famous Proclamation did not result in freedom for all slaves, with true emancipation not having occurred until three years later on June 19, 1865. In this fact, there is a pivotal lesson and recurring theme in American history. A lesson that should be remembered and inform how we move forward as a nation as it relates to our most pressing issues impacting the African-American community.
Traveling back in time 158 years to the end of the Civil War reminds us of the more than 150,000 enslaved Black persons in Texas who remained in brutal bondage for three years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Union Army troops led by Major General Gordon Granger marched to Galveston, Texas to free the last enslaved Black Americans on June 19, 1865 or “Juneteenth,” marking America’s second independence day.
Unfortunately, the history of delay as it relates to dignity and rights for African-Americans more than resonates today. As we consider the on-going fight for equal justice under the law, the lingering impacts of redlining, and the fight to achieve health equity and environmental justice, Juneteenth should serve as a clarion call for action and more work.
At Pyxis Partners we remain committed to advancing health equity, access and affordability, and serving as steadfast advocates for communities that have been disenfranchised and underserved. For us, Juneteenth serves as another example of our “why.”
One of our on-going efforts to serve as catalysts for much needed change is our continued work with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program, launched by former President Barack Obama in 2015 and formally known as the Precision Medicine Initiative.
All of Us is an effort to enroll one million individuals that reflect the rich diversity of the United States and over 80% of participants are part of communities that have historically been underrepresented in biomedical research. Eighteen percent of participants self identify as Black, African-American, or African which is notable as other genome wide association studies have participation rates by individuals who self identify as Black, African-American, or African are less than 5%. Since the program’s launch, All of Us now has more than 657,000 program participants, with more than 455,000 individuals having completed all initial steps of the program.
Pyxis Partners supports, collaborates, and funds more than 100 organizations across the nation to form the Community Partner Gateway Initiative (CPGI). CPGI partners connect this landmark initiative to various community based organizations, provider organizations, HBCUs and HSIs across the nation - ensuring diverse communities and voices are able to shape this effort.
As we celebrate, reflect, and observe Juneteenth this year, Pyxis Partners reaffirms our commitment to move beyond observance and reflection to continued action advocating for and advancing the cause of health equity. Once one truly understands the struggle and hardships experienced by communities in the past, we are then implored to focus our attention on those communities today and in the future to ensure history will not be repeated.