Juneteenth: Stories from the Past

In addition to all other forms of celebration, Juneteenth also highlights oral storytelling. There are usually open mics that allow individuals to share poetry (new and classics), singing, and storytelling. This is tradition also draws back to the story’s origin with General Granger’s verbal proclamation of freedom to the formerly enslaved Texans. 

The recordings of former slaves in Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine states. Twenty-two interviewees discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom.

Click here for the article summarizing the recordings

Click here to listen to the collection

The National Museum of African American History and Culture hosts a platform that provides a unique opportunity for individuals, families, and community groups to share their stories as part of the Museum’s online community collection. Read stories of people, places and moments that shape the black community this Juneteenth.

Click here to explore the collection


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Juneteenth: Black-Owned Businesses

Supporting Black businesses is something we can do not just on Juneteenth the day but anytime throughout the year (shout-out to National Black Business month in August).

Let’s address the first hurdle: identifying a Black business. Simply because a business sells products that are catered to the Black community, does not necessarily mean that it is owned by a person who identifies as Black. Google has a cool filter on its search results to help you identify if the business is Black-owned. Trying to pick out an engagement ring for your love? Search for Black owned jewelry shop, and it will include if the shop identifies as Black-owned in the results.

Why you should support Black-Owned Businesses:

  • Closing the racial wealth gap
  • Creating Jobs and Opportunities
  • Supporting Communities

100+ Black-owned businesses to support in 2022 and beyond

You can use this link to search and find local black-owned businesses in eight 8 of Victra markets: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Bay Area and Seattle.

Business Spotlight: Locafella

In its simplest form it’s an all-natural hair studio for dreadlocs full of talented locticians, but it’s so much more than that. Self-taught locs specialist, Jasmin Thomas, began her career while attending college at Chico State University on a basketball scholarship. Upon earning her degree in Psychology, Jasmin returned where she began working side-by-side in her father’s barbershop, as a loc-tician “hairapist”. With her unique artistic techniques, fast turnaround and quality service, Jasmin quickly rose to success.

“Locafella is a culture. It represents strength, courage, and faith. It represents a community of real people with pain and transgressions. Clients come here to feel love and sense of family. They want to escape the problems out here in the world today.

I started this brand with one client when I graduated college and I had two options, get a job in my career field or bet on myself and build my own brand. The way this path was aligned is divine. The more my clientele built, the more I needed to connect with other stylists like myself and make this one large brand. I wanted to leave something in the soil that would outlive me. I wanted to create generational wealth and build my own brand in my own name.”

-Jasmin Thomas, Owner & Master Loctician

The unique thing about Locafella Loc Studio is that they are the only luxury dreadlock salon around. Locafella studio has two locations; 7 stylist at the Fontana location Inland Empire, and 10 stylists at the Melrose location LA. Everyone works together as a team and respects the brand and what it represents. They also have clothing and a full hair product line up available in stores, Walmart.com, and Amazon. Visit their website here!


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Juneteenth: Food

Breaking bread with loved ones is an important part of African American culture, and Juneteenth is no different. These selected recipes reflect the holiday’s Texas roots.

In the video below, NMAAHC Web Content Specialist Andre Thompson and his family show how to make the perfect brisket for Juneteenth.

Here are some other great recipes you can try with your family!

Barbequed Beef Brisket Sandwich

In much of the south, barbecue is about pork. In Texas, however, beef brisket is the chosen meat on the barbecue trail.

Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

Okra is Africa’s culinary totem. It originated on the continent and made its way around the world.

Red Velvet Cake

Although many think that red velvet cake has been an American standby for centuries, it is actually a twentieth-century invention, having originated in the 1920s.

Hibiscus Ginger Sweet Tea

Hibiscus is the fresh or dried pod of Hibiscus sabdariffa, a plant native to West Africa.

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans And Rice is a classic Monday-night dinner in New Orleans.


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Juneteenth: HBCU Celebration

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been a big part of the economic and social structure of the United States for nearly 190 years. Many students of color, many of them notable, have attended HBCUs thanks to the rich cultural and educational opportunities provided. Notable names such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Strahan, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Vice President Kamala Harris are just a few on a long list of high achievers to graduate from various Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Many HBCU’s and their local communities are honoring Juneteenth at a variety of events, both on and off campus, as well as virtually, over the week before and after June 19th. Check out what is available locally for you to join the celebration! Prairie View A&M University celebrates Juneteenth, honoring those that paved the way for us, with this video about the importance of Juneteenth.

HBCU GO — the digital lifestyle and sports destination owned by Byron Allen, who also owns theGrio — will debut two documentaries in celebration of the Juneteenth holiday. The free, streaming platform is the leading media provider for America’s 107 historically Black colleges and universities. Portraits ‘N Color: Repowered and History Half Told Is Untold will air on June 18th and 19th.

Portraits ‘N Color: Repowered is a documentary featuring a series of short films produced by Kristin Adair, chief executive officer of Unchained Stories, who weaves together the personal stories of three women from Milwaukee, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. Adair’s project was completed with a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation, an endowment fund committed to transforming communities of color for more than 75 years. Portraits ‘N Color: Repowered follows PWF grantees Lashonia Tate and Adair, who are active in trying to transform their respective neighborhoods and improve residents’ lives, and features an interview with PWF President and CEO Candice C. Jones.

History Half Told Is Untold dives into the historic efforts of the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, which was formed more than 245 years ago in Williamsburg, Virginia. Thought to be one of America’s very first Black churches, the historic church was created in 1776 by a union of free and enslaved Blacks, even though laws existed then forbidding Blacks from gathering. First Baptist Church of Williamsburg has played witness to everything from slavery in the U.S. to its tumultuous civil rights movement. From behind its pulpit over 60 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his message, inspiring many and moving even more into action.

Both documentaries are available on HBCUGO.TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.  They can also be viewed by downloading the HBCU GO app.


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Juneteenth 2022

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Granger’s announcement was two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in other southern states. Although some enslaved people knew about the Emancipation Proclamation, they were forced to stay on the plantations by threat of death from their former owners. The name Juneteenth is a blending of the words June and nineteenth and is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery. This historic moment is important for all of us to recognize and celebrate each year as a company and as a nation.

The first Juneteenth celebration was a year later (1866) in Houston. Juneteenth is celebrated in lots of different ways across the US. It us usually celebrated with parades, festivals, picnics and other large group gatherings. People were encouraged to bring or wear something red to commemorate the struggle of those who were enslaved. This may be done by wearing something red, by bring something red (i.e. watermelon, strawberry soda).  

Oral traditions are a large part of Juneteenth celebrations. Individuals are encouraged to recite poetry, sing, or tell stories. The children are especially encouraged to share poems and are often encouraged to share in front of their communities. This involvement helped to keep the tradition alive by encouraging the next generation to participate in the festivities and to remember the reason why we celebrate. 

“Juneteenth is for everyone who believes in freedom, and who believes in creating a new world. You will see with the spread of Juneteenth throughout the country to different places.”  

-Kelly E. Navies

Additional Information

Who Celebrates Juneteenth?

Why is Juneteenth Important?

The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth


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PTSD Awareness Month

June 2022

National PTSD Awareness Month is observed in June and it ushers in an array of awareness campaigns run for the benefit of PTSD survivors. PTSD, which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, occurs in people after they have experienced a particularly traumatic event like war, violent physical/sexual/verbal assault, accidents, and so forth. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, nightmares, paranoia, insomnia, disturbing thoughts, and much more. Many people recover from PTSD after a few days, weeks, or months. Yet, for others, the recovery road might mean one year or more. This mental disorder is highly treatable, but due to the lack of knowledge around it as well as the stigma attached to seeking mental help, many choose to ignore the problem and suffer through it.

History

In 2010, the U.S. Senate declared June 27 to be National PTSD Awareness Day. However, in 2014, it designated the whole month of June to be observed as National PTSD Awareness Month. This was a welcome move by many PTSD organizations and support groups as many felt that more awareness campaigns needed to be held for people to seek help when it came to PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the most active forerunners in the fight against PTSD, has released a special June calendar that people can download. This special calendar features several activities (like raising awareness on social media through sharing PTSD helplines, articles, subscribing to YouTube channels, finding local PTSD therapists, etc.) aimed to increase awareness and support for PTSD survivors.

PTSD is not a newly recognized mental disorder. The disorder dates back to 50 B.C. when it was described in a poem by Hippocrates. He talks about the experiences of a soldier returning home after a battle. PTSD started gaining more attention after the wars between England and France when many people, civilians and soldiers alike, reported experiencing symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, intrusive and disturbing thoughts, and flashbacks. This continued throughout WW1 and WW2, with PTSD being named as ‘Shell Shock’ and ‘Battle Fatigue’, respectively. It was during the 1970s’ Vietnam War that the mental disorder was renamed PTSD. Earlier treatments related to electric shock therapy and other painful options. But today’s modern technology and extensive research have led to much better and effective treatments like group therapy, counseling, and antidepressants.

Facts

  • 8% of the population will experience PTSD: The National Center for PTSD states that around 7–8% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetimes.
  • Women are more likely PTSD sufferers: Women are twice more likely to suffer from PTSD than men due to a sexual assault/trauma event.
  • ‘Big T’ and ‘Small t’ types of trauma: There are two types of trauma and they range in the severity of the causes and triggers: the ‘Big T’ is any type of trauma that has occurred due to a life-threatening situation like wars, natural disasters, physical assault, etc., while the ‘Small t’ is caused due to a disturbing event that is not life-threatening like divorce, abrupt relocation, financial woes, etc.
  • Trembles are normal after trauma: Experts state that it is completely normal and healthy to experience shivers and trembling after a traumatic, stressful event as it is the body’s way to release all of the excess adrenaline.
  • PTSD is not just from personal experience: Many people can develop PTSD simply because they heard or witnessed someone else going through a traumatic event.

How to Observe

  • Stand with PTSD survivors: PTSD survivors need care, attention, and love. Research shows that people recover faster from illness if they have supporters in the shape of friends and/or family. Be there for them by being informed about their specific symptoms, directing them to professional help, or just lending them an ear.
  • Learn about PTSD: Research about PTSD’s causes, symptoms, and treatments. You will be better equipped in helping people in the future or even yourself.
  • Talk about PTSD: The main aim of National PTSD Awareness Month is to spread awareness about it. Talk to your friends and family, go to events related to it, and donate to PTSD organizations if you can afford to. But whatever you choose to do, don’t stop spreading information about the disorder.

Resources for Support

Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. Everyone with PTSD, whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events, needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.

Resource *resources for those enrolled on Victra’s medical plansContact Information
Employee Assistance Program1-800-538-3543 EAP Website
BCBS Medical Plans*1-800-359-2422 BCBS Behavioral Health Resources  
HealthJoy Teletherapy* Provides access to confidential virtual therapy that can address depression, anxiety, trauma and other mental health concerns. Access via the HealthJoy app New users can download the HealthJoy app from the App Store or Google Play then visit https://mygroups.healthjoy.com/membership to activate your account.
Veteran Crisis LineCall, chat online or text for support
Veteran Crisis Line Website
24/7, confidential crisis support for Veterans and their loved ones. *You don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to connect.

The PTSD Coach app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that often occur after trauma. Features include:

  • Reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work
  • Tools for screening and tracking your symptoms
  • Convenient, easy-to-use tools to help you handle stress symptoms
  • Direct links to support and help
  • Always with you when you need it

Pride Month 2022

Annually, across the globe, various events are held during the month of June as a way of recognizing the influence LGBTQIA+ people have had around the world. As well as being a month-long celebration, Pride month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise awareness of current issues facing the community. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Parades are a prominent feature of Pride month, and there are many street parties, community events, poetry readings, public speaking, street festivals and educational sessions all of which are covered by mainstream media and attracting millions of participants.

History

On a hot summer’s night in New York on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, which resulted in bar patrons, staff, and neighborhood residents rioting onto Christopher Street outside. Among the many leaders of the riots was a black, trans, bisexual woman, Marsha P. Johnson, leading the movement to continue over six days with protests and clashes. The message was clear — protestors demanded the establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.

Pride Month is largely credited as being started by bisexual activist Brenda Howard. Known as ‘The Mother of Pride,’ Brenda organized Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade a year after the Stonewall Riots. This eventually morphed into what we now know as the New York City Pride March and was the catalyst for the formation of similar parades and marches across the world.

Pride Month is so important because it marks the start of huge change within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the wider societal implications. Although attitudes and injustice still remain, we have come a long way since the riots of 1969 and by continuing in this long-standing tradition we continue to raise awareness, improve the attitudes of society and encourage inclusiveness.

Click here to read the 2022 Presidential Proclamation on Pride Month

How to Celebrate

Here at Victra, our Victra Pride Alliance [VPA] ERG is celebrating all month long and invite you to join us! Here you can find an archive of the entire month’s events so that you don’t miss out.

  • Pride Month Teams Backgrounds
  • LGBTQIA+ Icons
  • More Upcoming Blog Posts
  • ERG Member’s Pride Stories
  • Fun Facts
  • Awareness & Education
  • Music & Games
  • And More!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, which as originally known as Decoration Day – the tradition of decorating soldiers’ tombs and gravesites with flowers, was first attested in 1882 as a federal holiday for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the armed forces (over 645,000 since WWI). On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May.

Unofficially marking the beginning of summer, Memorial Day often means parades, beach trips and backyard BBQs. But to many, it means visiting cemeteries and memorials to honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Volunteers place American flags and flowers on graves of military personnel in national cemeteries, and the most solemn ceremonies occur when the president of the United States lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

There are two other holidays that celebrate those who have served or are serving in the U.S. military: Armed Forces Day (which is earlier in May), an unofficial U.S. holiday for honoring those currently serving in the armed forces, and Veterans Day (on November 11), which honors those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

How to Celebrate

Memorial Day is an important day for all of us, serving as a reminder to remember those who have fought for and served this country we call home. With the holiday weekend quickly approaching, we’ve put together a few Memorial Day celebration ideas on how you and your family can recognize this special day together.

This Memorial Day, make it all about spending time with loved ones as you remember those who have fought for your freedom, and enjoy a fantastic kick-off to summer.

  1. Attend A Ceremony. Many towns have parades and ceremonies on Memorial Day and some events even conclude with a memorial service. Take some time from prepping for BBQs or relaxing with friends and family to take advantage of what your town has to offer.
  2. Decorate with Flags. For many years, it has been a tradition to decorate graves of fallen soldiers with flags on Memorial Day.  Another tradition is to fly the flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. If you have a flag pole, consider joining the tradition this year.
  3. Thank A Veteran. While Memorial Day is a time for remembering and honoring our fallen soldiers, it’s also a wonderful time to thank soldiers past and present who are right here in our midst today.  Many of our employees, vendors or guests are veterans – thank you for your service. Don’t know a veteran or want to do more? Write a letter to a veteran or soldier! Check out OperationGratitude.com for more information about writing letters or sending care packages to soldiers currently deployed.
  4. Participate in our National Moment of Remembrance. In an effort to ensure Memorial Day is the sacred and noble holiday it is intended to be, the National Moment of Remembrance asks all of us to pause for 1 minute in an act of national unity wherever we are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day.
  5. Buy A Poppy. During the days leading up to Memorial Day, members of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) accept donations for poppies. The poppy’s significance to Memorial Day derives from John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Disabled and needy veterans in VA hospitals have been assembling Buddy Poppies since 1924. Purchase a poppy and your donation assists in maintaining state and national rehabilitation and service programs for veterans.
  6. Donate to the USO. The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. Victra is a proud supporter, and you can learn more and donate by clicking here or having your guests donate in store through RQ!

For even more ways to celebrate both virtually and locally, click here!

Pan Visibility Day

May 24, 2022

Pan Visibility Day is on May 24th and is a day to recognize and celebrate those who identify as pansexual or panromantic and educates others on the community. Like its LGBTQIA+ counterparts, Pan Visibility Day is an opportunity to bring to light the stories and experiences of pansexual people in society and look at how we can work to improve inclusivity for pan identified people. Victra Pride Alliance [VPA] is proud to celebrate and bring visibility and understanding to the pan community.

What does it mean to be Pan?

One common misconception that even members of the LGBTQ+ community have is that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same. Bisexuality can loosely be defined as attraction to more than one gender, but many define it with the more narrow definition of attraction to both genders, i.e,: men and women.

Pansexuality differs in that it includes sexual attraction inclusive of ALL gender identities, which means that people can also be drawn to those who are gender fluid or genderqueer. It is similar for people who are panromantic. When a person identifies as panromantic, it means that they can feel romantically towards anyone of any gender identity.

When people come out as pansexual or panromantic, headlines often emphasize that it’s different than being bi+, and while that’s true, somebody who is bi+ may also identify as pan and vice versa. The bisexuality umbrella term includes those who feel attracted to two or more gender identities. Pansexuality refers to people who feel sexual attraction to any gender identity, but because their preference includes two or more genders, they could also consider themself b+i. Being pan doesn’t mean that a person is going to be attracted towards everyone, but simply that gender identity doesn’t play a role in that attraction.

Most simply put, being pan is a natural attraction to people regardless of gender. Some pan activists use the phrase “Hearts, not parts” to explain this orientation. This phrase can be a useful tool when talking with people who aren’t familiar with LGBTQIA+ terminology.

Pan Facts

The word pansexuality originally comes from Greek. Pan means ‘all’, and relates to the word panorama. It is important to note that pansexual people are not attracted to all other people, but they are attracted to people of all genders. This is different from being attracted to everyone; in the same way that a heterosexual woman will not be attracted to all men and a lesbian woman will not be attracted to all women, pansexual people will experience attraction to specific people.

Being pan is just one part of who someone is. A pan person may also be trans, have a disability, person of color, religious or all four. Pan people are across all age groups, each have different interests, needs and aspirations. On Pan Visibility Day it is important to remember that we’re celebrating people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.

The pan identity reaffirms the existence of genders beyond the binary “man” and “woman.” It opens the door to conversations about non-binary and agender identities. Please check out our past blog posts for International Non-Binary People’s Day and Agender Pride Day to learn more about these identities.

You may be surprised how many people are pansexual! There are many people who identify as pansexual or panromantic, such as Jazz Jennings, the famous LGBTQIA+ rights advocate who came out as trans as a child. Authors Dana Mele and Caitlin Ricci identify as panromantic. Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monáe, Brendan Urie from Panic! at the Disco, and Green Day Singer Billy Joe Armstrong are among a few others.

Be a Pan Ally

Being an ally is about doing, not about saying “I support [insert marginalized group]!” and leaving it at that. Regardless of if you identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, you can support these groups through allyship. Show up for any group that is suffering under systemic injustice by speaking up when people say things they shouldn’t, listen to perspectives other than your own, educate yourself on issues that you’re not well-versed in and share what you learn with those around you.

Leading by example can be hard. Sometimes people are resistant to learning, particularly when it challenges their perception of reality or self-identity, as discussions of marginalization and privilege often do, but that’s what allies do. Being an ally isn’t pretty. It isn’t always glitter and rainbows, but it is always worthwhile.

Do:

  • Let others identify their orientation
  • Believe Pansexual and Panromantic identities are real
  • Be respectful when you ask questions
  • Respect the answer you receive when asking questions
  • Remember that no one person represents the entire community and stereotypes aren’t always accurate
  • Stay open-minded, educated and informed

Don’t:

  • Assume that this is “just a phase”
  • Conclude that a person’s partner determines their sexuality
  • Demand that someone answer every question you have

More Resources

Agender Pride Day

May 19, 2022

May 19th is Agender Pride Day! Agender as a word literally means without a gender, but as a label it can be used in a variety of ways. Common themes in how people use it include feeling they don’t have a gender, are unable to experience gender, don’t identity with any ‘available’ genders, or exist outside the concept of gender. Victra Pride Alliance [VPA] is proud to celebrate and bring visibility and understanding to the agender community.

What does it mean to be Agender?

Being agender means different things to different people. Some agender people might transition medically by undergoing gender confirmation surgery or taking hormones if they feel that it will be best for them. However, many agender people don’t transition medically — it’s a personal choice. Similarly, some agender people change their name, pronouns, or gender expression (which is, the clothing they wear, how they style themselves, etc.). However, this is totally up to them, and there’s no “right” way to be agender. An agender person may use any pronouns, such as he/him, she/her, they/them, or less commonly known sets such as e/em or ze/hir. It’s important to be respectful and considerate of other people’s pronouns, even if they don’t immediately ‘make sense’ to you.

Is Agender the same as Non-Binary?

There can be some overlap between agender and non-binary labels, but they are not the same. Agender may fall under the non-binary umbrella for some people, or some might identify with both labels at once, but others might not feel any affinity for the non-binary label and consider agender a completely separate concept. Like all labels, there is no one singular definition or hierarchy of how labels are organized, so it really comes down to individual preference. There are a few other terms which are sometimes used similarly or interchangeably, such as neutrois, genderless, null-gender, gendervoid, or neutral-gender.

Where did the term Agender come from?

The term ‘agender’ was first coined in 2000 on an online forum, where a user described God as ‘amorphous, agender.’ It was first used to describe people in 2005 on another online forum, as someone wrote “cultures can have transgender, agender, and hypergender individuals.” By 2013, the label had gained popularity enough to be included in a New York Times piece titled “Generation LGBTQIA.” In 2017, a 27 year old was granted permission by a Judge in Oregon to legally identity as agender. 2017 was also the year the annual Agender Pride Day was begun.

How to be an Agender Ally

  • They may change their pronouns or name. It’s important to use the pronouns and name they want you to use.
  • Reiterate that you’re there to support them. Ask them if there’s any specific way you can show your support: They may have a specific request.
  • Give them space to talk about being agender without expecting them to talk about it (as they might not want to).
  • Stay open-minded, educated and informed.

More Resources