On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved black Americans were now free. You should note that this liberation occurred two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official January 1, 1863. Today, Americans refer to Juneteenth as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and/or Cel-Liberation Day and it has become the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

hands on a dark background

As we reflect back on the last few weeks and the conversations about racism in America, I’d like to take a minute to celebrate the black community. There is still so much work to do in order to eliminate racist systems and replace them with anti-racist systems. Developing new policies and procedures, training employees on unconscious bias, nurturing leaders of color, and having continuous and mediated conversations are just a few areas I’ve identified. As we all sift through what we do next, I share with you all one of my favorite poems of encouragement by the famous writer Countee Cullen. May it encourage anyone who like myself is striving to learn what we must learn, to do what we must do so that our nation can be what we want it to be.

“Hey, Black Child” by Countee Cullen

Hey Black Child
Do you know who you are
Who you really are
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you can be

Hey Black Child
Do you know where you are going
Where you’re really going
Do you know you can learn
What you want to learn
If you try to learn
What you can learn

Hey Black Child
Do you know you are strong
I mean really strong
Do you know you can do
What you want to do
If you try to do
What you can do

Hey Black Child
Be what you can be
Learn what you must learn
Do what you can do
And tomorrow your nation
Will be what you want it to be



Jasmine Wallace

Jasmine Wallace

Jasmine Wallace is the Senior Production Manager at the Public Library of Science (PLOS). She is responsible for the production processes and day to day production and publication operations for the PLOS journal portfolio. Previously, she was the Peer Review Manager at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). She was responsible for ensuring peer review practices, workflow, processes, and policies were up-to-date and applied consistently across the entire portfolio of journals. She currently serves as Treasurer for the Council of Science Editors and is the creator and host of their podcast series S.P.E.A.K. In the past, she was a Teaching Assistant at George Washington University for a course on Editing for Books, Journals, and E-Products.


7 Thoughts on "Happy Juneteenth!"

Thank you Jasmine for giving more information and meaning on this important holiday. I remember hearing “Hey, Black Child” by Countee Cullen, a few years ago on television.

It was a moment that touched by heart and cut through my soul.

Thank you for your reflection Jasmine. As you and Countee Cullen’s poem advise and inspire – we need belief and strength and education to change and heal.

And thank you Jane for the link to the video of Pe’Tehn’s powerful recitation of Hey Black Child.

Hi, Can the poem”Hey Black Child”by Countee Cullen which in my view is suitable for reciting and appreciation by all black children anywhere everywhere wherever they are without infringement of the author copyright.

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