Tomorrow, June 19, is Juneteenth, now a national holiday. It is a day to celebrate the emancipation of African Americans, pegged to the Union Army order issued by General Granger proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. It’s also an opportunity to think about what we might do to ensure that we keep breaking down the many barriers our BIPOC communities still face. 

At the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, we are focused on building communities where every member feels they belong—because we know that sense of belonging builds the confidence to contribute, to find creative solutions to our collective challenges. It’s only possible when we tear down the barriers that prevent us from seeing each other fully, which in turn prevents us from participating fully in all the challenges that face us as a community. One of the ways we at the Fund look to celebrate that value is by finding ways to create inclusive public spaces that celebrate the history and contributions of our whole community. 

Yesterday in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars, our City’s NFL team, celebrated native son James Weldon Johnson’s birthday by announcing their support for Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park in LaVilla. The Park is one of the collaborative projects the duPont Fund has undertaken to help create more inclusive shared spaces for our community. The Jaguars’ $250,000 commitment is the latest example of the many organizations in Jacksonville that have come together to help recover our lost memories and revitalize our built environment to better reflect our history. In honor of James and his brother John Rosamond Johnson, one of our Jaguars players performed a heart-stopping rendition of the brothers’ hymn, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing. Read more about the announcement and listen to Marvin Jones’ performance here.

As we prepare to celebrate Juneteenth this year, we look forward to the time when our City’s public spaces better reflect the rich and diverse history of all of our residents.

Written by
Mari Kuraishi