On Saturday, June 19th, more than 60 members of the First Parish community gathered in our courtyard for a Juneteenth celebration. Kicking off the event, Rev Erica welcomed the group and provided a brief history of Juneteenth. The program featured guest speaker, Schiffon Wong, Chair of the Reparations Committee of the Mystic Valley chapter of the NAACP. In addition, Mary Fusoni, presented an overview of the many resources available from our racial justice library, and Diane Shriver provided wonderful music to accompany the program–after 16 long months, we sang together! In gratitude for Schiffon’s participation, RJCC made a donation to the Mystic Valley NAACP, we also offered BLM yard signs at the event and collected a further $180 to add to the donation.
Schiffon’s inspirational talk was a call to action where each of us has a role; she asked us: Are we truth tellers? Are we willing to tell the truth about our history and its legacy? Are we willing to divest from white supremacy? Are we willing to point at the wealth gap between Black and white Americans as evidence of the systemic inequities that have endured since Emancipation? She told us that those of us who are white, those of us who have power within white spaces, are the X factor in making reparations happen and urged us to use our spheres of influence to become radical reparationists.
Schiffon described The NAACP Reparations Committee recent efforts to send copies of the book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century to every member of congress. This initiative helped emphasize the need to keep reparations as a top priority and as a further call to congress to consider US House Resolution 40, a federal bill that will establish a commission to examine the impact of slavery and other racist practices and develop reparations for redress and repair—in April, more than 30 years after its introduction, the House voted to advance HR40.
As we socialized after the presentations, we discussed the many ways in which we can continue to not only educate ourselves, but also act together in our efforts to confront white supremacy. Later this summer the RJCC will be working on our goals for our next program year, so stay tuned to more info about how we can join together in these efforts. Until then, please enjoy some photos from our Juneteenth celebration.