For Immediate Release: June 18, 2020
CWS and Board of Directors Commemorate Juneteenth, Announce Platform for Racial Justice
New York City—On the eve of Juneteenth, a national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, Church World Service and the CWS board of directors announced a new Platform on Racial Justice, issuing the following statement:
On Juneteenth, we celebrate the ending of slavery in the United States. We recognize and mourn the national sin of slavery – the systematic kidnapping, abuse, and purposing of people – and honor the courage and fortitude of African Americans, many who paid the ultimate price for freedom, their lives and deaths a testament to the evils of oppression. The legacy of slavery in the United States is not relegated to history books. These same evils have evolved into institutional and systemic racism, evident throughout modern history and made clear especially recently by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Robert Fuller, Malcom Harsch, and many other Black lives.
Both slavery and racism are sins – systems of oppression perpetrated both by individuals and a nation that has upheld white supremacism through unjust economic systems under the guise of “rule of law,” demonstrating a deep-seeded immorality that values profit and power more than human life and equality. We have continued to see these same threads of injustice, impunity, greed, and manufactured fear to justify the status quo of racism and injustice perpetrated by individuals and systems alike. And like many other sins, slavery and racism are and were perpetuated by sins of omission – injustices that have been allowed to happen because many failed to act. That is our past, but it cannot and must not be our future.
Today we celebrate freedom. We celebrate Black freedom, resistance, and the active struggle of African Americans for justice. We hold the U.S. accountable to the democratic principles embedded in its Constitution. We stand with our Black sisters and brothers who demand immediate justice and equality, and we stand against systems and practices that obstruct these values. CWS staff and Board band together in frustration, sadness, and anger against persistent racism and violence plaguing our communities across the nation. We applaud the reforms that are taking place, even as we join the work for further reform and new and just policies to divest and invest; demilitarize and decriminalize; provide equal access to justice; and to work for climate and environmental justice and gender equality.
CWS recognizes the intersections of race, oppression and discrimination happening with Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. We stand with these communities to support the eradication of racism and discrimination and will work across the BIPOC to fight these injustices. To our Black colleagues, partners, and clients, we share your outrage. This Juneteenth, we commemorate our stance with a renewed advocacy platform.
In vigorous commitment, we, the CWS Staff and Board of Directors, pledge to:
- Implement and be accountable to racial justice, equality, and inclusion practices;
- Create a scholarship fund in support of professional development for BIPOC individuals;
- Promote resources created by Black-led organizations that educate and empower our staff, network, partners, and donors to listen to communities, respond with integrity to their needs, and invest in their capacities;
- Encourage our staff, network, partners, and donors to have conversations with family members, neighbors, coworkers and friends that dismantle anti-Blackness and racism;
- Provide welcome to newly arriving refugees and support refugees leaders in lifting up their voices for change;
- Work with Black community leaders and organizations in calling on congressional, state; and local policy makers to change laws and policies that perpetrate inequality; and
- Commemorate Juneteenth, an historic anniversary, by honoring the victims of slavery and discrimination and committing ourselves to working toward full equality.
Together we rise.
The full text of the CWS Platform on Racial Justice can be found here. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.