“The people…are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor”
General Orders, Number 3, Major General Gordon Granger
June 19, 1865
Juneteenth is celebrated each year to commemorate emancipation from slavery in the United States. General Gordon Granger spoke the above words in Galveston, Texas sharing the news of the end of the Civil War and the resulting freedom of those enslaved. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued in 1863, the war continued until the spring of 1865 with the news not reaching Texas until the summer. Today, people of all races and nationalities honor Juneteenth either on the day, the week, or in some cases throughout the month of June to acknowledge a period in our history that’s influence continues to impact our society. These celebrations aim to promote and cultivate knowledge and recognition of African American history and modern day culture and continued struggles.
In today’s society one does not have to look far to see that, despite over 150 years, there is still aftermath from the dark period of slavery in our country. From income inequality, racial variations in prison populations, health disparities, and more there is certainly progress to be made.
For CASA of St. Louis, we see that the children of our community do not go unscathed when facing these inequalities. In our area alone, while 30% of the St. Louis population is African American, 70% of children in foster care are African American. Children of color frequently have longer stays in out-of-home care when placed in foster care. They experience more placements and have significantly different discharge patterns than their white peers. African American children are less likely to return home to their families, be adopted or find legal guardianship than their white counterparts and are more likely to age out of care, which is associated with a variety of consequences such as increased involvement with the criminal justice system, poor employment outcomes, and lower educational attainment (Achieving Racial Equity: Child Welfare Policy Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Children of Color, Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2015).
While 80% of the children served by CASA of St. Louis are African American, less than 15% of our CASA volunteer corps are African American. While all CASA volunteers have a lasting impact on the child(ren) they, it can be of particular benefit to children and youth in care to have an advocate who shares their racial identity and ‘looks like them’ to help build rapport and share common ground.
This month, how can you celebrate and honor Juneteenth? Join CASA of St. Louis in making sure all children in foster care have an advocate and help build a community that recognizes our past while striving for a brighter, equitable future for children and youth!