Racial Equity Initiative Team

A Texas Insider’s View of Juneteenth: On Juneteenth

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law our nation’s newest federal holiday, June 19 – Juneteenth Day of Observance. Other than getting a paid day off, most Americans probably don’t know much about what it is and why it is so important we understand and celebrate it.

In the book On Juneteenth, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed addresses so much more than just the holiday. Gordon-Reed describes what it was like growing up in a small town in East Texas in the 1960s and ‘70s: the history they studied and did not study in her public school, the unanticipated downsides of integrated classrooms (hint: the role of Black teachers), and her experiences as the only Black child in an all-white school. She also explores some fascinating aspects of Texas history: the story of the first Black slave (a Black African from Morocco) to explore the Southwest in the 1520’s (100 hundred years before Jamestown), a nuanced narrative of the Alamo where the heroes owned slaves, and how slaveholders’ interests dominated some twists and turns of Texas history including the decisions to become an independent republic and later join the United States. Only one chapter—the last—is titled “On Juneteenth,” yet all the preceding pages create a rich and colorful context for her discussion of the holiday.

Gordon-Reed is a beautiful writer, and her even-handed, thoughtful forays into various topics related to Texas history, her family, and slavery make for an edifying and—barring a few disturbing stories—a very enjoyable read. Gordon-Reed won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for History and the National Book Award in 2008 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, and currently teaches history and law at Harvard University.

When purchasing On Juneteenth, consider supporting local Black-owned businesses such as Marcus Books in Oakland,  marcusbooks.com.

More to Explore

Talking with Kids About the Order of Worship in the Bulletin.

If I visited Calvary for the first time and had not been to a Presbyterian church before, I would want someone to help me understand what I was doing throughout the order of worship. This blog provides an example of how some churches annotate their bulletins so children, youth, and adults can learn more about why we choose to read, sing, pray, and listen at certain times during the worship service. Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church (www.hbpres.net) in Louisville, Kentucky offers a model of how to explain the order of worship. Being transparent about how we worship together is in line with our reformed tradition. We can read and interpret the Bible ourselves, as well as worship and say prayers with our own bodies. Many years ago, a priest would do all of this while the congregation sat or stood. It is important for parents to share with their children that all people have the freedom to contribute to a worship service. By singing, listening, praying, and sharing, we get to know each other and witness each other’s talents and inspiring work. Fellowship and education events are only part of the ways that we form our faith together. Participating in worship is what binds us together each Sunday, so that we can support each other at or outside of church during the week.

Support Trans Kids

Calvary Presbyterian Church continues to support transgender youth and adults. March 2023 is Transgender Awareness Month. We show our continuing support through messages such as, “Trans Lives Matter,” “Believe Trans Kids,” “Support Trans Kids,” and “Protect Trans Kids.” This blog will offer some insight into Presbyterian and San Francisco organizations that actively support and advocate for LGBTQI+ people. I hope that you will take time to read through these resources. There is hope. So many inspired people of all ages are working together for freedom, safety, and love. Now that I am raising two teens I have come to more clearly understand the context and reality that LGBTQI+ youth live in every day. It is crucial to support the growth and development of transgender children and youth who sense that their “gender identity does not correspond with, or sit comfortably with, the sex they were registered at birth.” That is the definition of transgender offered by Twinkl, an education website for children ages preschool to 8th grade. See more definitions at the end of this blog. Transgender children, youth, young adults, adults, and senior adults do not want to be "othered" as they are children of God. We want to believe, support, and protect them, so that they can live safely and freely without fear and shame. When adults do not see or support children or youth as they are, the risks of gender dysphoria and youth suicide increase. God created all of us in Their image. May we have the courage to send out Jesus’ message of love and acceptance to ourselves and all people.

2022 Annual Report