Celebrating Juneteenth: Issue One on Political Reform and Racial Justice

Statement by the staff of Issue One

Today, June 19, marks Juneteenth, the annual celebration of Black emancipation and freedom in the United States. In remembrance of this occasion, Issue One’s staff released the following statement: 

“Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas — a momentous milestone in the struggle for Black liberation in the United States. As we reflect on the end of legal slavery in the United States, we are reminded just how much work there is left to be done. 

“People across the nation are expressing anger over the deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and so many others at the hands of the police and white supremacy. 

“This response is shining a bright light on the racism that has been here all along. From slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration and the continued police killing of Black people, our nation has been defined by structural racism and has an ugly history of putting up barriers to prevent all Americans from fully participating in civic life.

“At the same time, our country was founded on aspirational ideals, including the core concepts of freedom and equality. Fixing our political system — and including every voice in the process — is critical to building an inclusive democracy that brings our country together. We need to end the influence of big money in politics. Eliminate gerrymandered districts where politicians pick their voters. Reduce the domination of the influence industry in our policymaking. Increase transparency in our politics. Reempower Congress, and make it more representative of and responsive to the American electorate. Expand voter participation and political engagement. End voter suppression. And so much more. 

“But all of these and other reforms must also include an intentional effort to dismantle structural racism in all of its forms, and that work must be fully integrated into our democracy reform efforts.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called on America to approach racial justice with the ‘fierce urgency of now.’ That was more than 50 years ago. The horrific deaths we’ve seen recently have been an overdue wakeup call to many who have never experienced such racist violence, but for many communities of color, it is simply how things have always been.

“Each such step forward towards equality — for every race, sex, religion, legal status, sexual orientation, and gender identity — has been hard-fought and faced with intense and sometimes brutal opposition. But each victory brings us closer to freedom and equality for all in America.

“We must approach this moment like we are running out of time, like the future of our republic is on the line — because it is.”