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A Day of Reflection and Action: Embracing Juneteenth and Understanding 13th

June 19, 2024

Dear Community Members,

Today, we commemorate Juneteenth, a day etched in the annals of history with profound significance and deep emotional resonance. June 19, 1865, marked the end of slavery for over 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas, a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. This day, known as Juneteenth, has long been a symbol of freedom and a celebration of resilience for African Americans. However, it's only recently that Juneteenth has been acknowledged as a national holiday, bringing its importance to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

As we celebrate this day, it's crucial to understand that the fight for true equality and justice is far from over. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This powerful statement underscores the interconnectedness of our struggles and the imperative to address systemic injustices that continue to plague our society.

To grasp the full scope of these issues, I implore you to watch two critical pieces available now on Netflix: Ava DuVernay’s documentary "13th" and the interview "13th: A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey & Ava DuVernay." These works are not just informative but transformative, revealing the deeply entrenched systems of oppression that persist to this day.

Why Should You Care?

  1. Understanding Historical Injustice: "13th" delves into the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the Thirteenth Amendment and its loophole that allowed for the continuation of slavery through mass incarceration. This documentary sheds light on how policies and practices have systematically targeted African Americans, perpetuating cycles of poverty and imprisonment.

  2. Recognizing Modern-Day Slavery: The documentary highlights the alarming reality that the prison system today functions as a modern-day form of slavery. The loophole in the 13th Amendment states that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." This clause has been exploited to justify the mass incarceration of Black people, who are often subjected to forced labor for little or no pay.

  3. Empathy and Awareness: Watching these works fosters empathy and a deeper understanding of the African American experience. It challenges viewers to see the world through the eyes of those who have been systematically marginalized and oppressed. This is a crucial step in building a more just and equitable society.

  4. Inspiration to Act: Knowledge is the first step towards action. By educating yourself about these issues, you become better equipped to advocate for change. The interview with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay provides additional insights and reflections, empowering viewers to engage in meaningful conversations and actions including a deeper understanding of what exactly is a "criminal".

As a Black woman, Chairwoman, and President of Please Don't Die Black Men (PDDBM), I live every day knowing that my life, and the lives of countless others, are undervalued by a system built on inequality. Yet, I refuse to let this deter me from fighting for a better future. I urge you to embrace your humanity and recognize the importance of Juneteenth and the messages conveyed in "13th."

Our Mission at PDDBM

At PDDBM, we are dedicated to championing the advancement and prosperity of African American/Black communities, particularly children of color. Our mission is rooted in the principles of equity, education, and empowerment. We strive to break barriers, redefine narratives, and ensure that every individual has the support and resources needed to thrive in a world of limitless possibilities.

Our Vision for the Future

We envision a world where African American/Black communities stand on a foundation of equal access, quality education, and economic opportunities. Through relentless advocacy, transformative events, and strategic partnerships, we aim to foster a society where everyone has the tools to shape their destiny, free from the constraints of systemic injustice.

Core Values

  • Equity: We are committed to dismantling barriers and creating an equitable society.

  • Education: We believe in the transformative power of education and strive to provide quality learning experiences.

  • Inclusivity: Our strength lies in embracing diversity and celebrating African American/Black cultures.

  • Empowerment: We empower individuals to overcome challenges and shape a future of limitless potential.

  • Advocacy: We are vocal advocates for justice, equality, and systemic change.

Take Action

This Juneteenth, honor the past by committing to the future. Watch "13th" and "13th: A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey & Ava DuVernay." Let these narratives inform and inspire you to act. Together, we can dismantle the barriers of injustice and build a world where every individual thrives.

In solidarity and hope,

Ruby N Lewis

Chairwoman and President

Please Don't Die Black Men (PDDBM)

Let us come together to commemorate Juneteenth and take meaningful steps towards justice and equality. Your action today can create a ripple effect for generations to come.

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