Honoring the Legacy of Juneteenth

June 15, 2023

Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day, highlighting the resilience and struggles of our country through uncertain times. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of more than 250,000 enslaved people on June 19, 1865, when 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people in Texas.

This day became known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people of Texas and has been celebrated in the Black community since 1866.

More than 150 years later, the effects of slavery resurface in many parts of our society. Despite Black Angelenos being the third largest Black population in the country, and having been integral to the cultural, economic, and sociopolitical landscape of Los Angeles County, many Black Angelenos continue to experience adverse life outcomes as a result of structural racism—disproportionate rates of academic achievement, illness, homelessness, incarceration, and other outcomes have had a significant impact on the overall vitality of the Black community.

In Los Angeles County, 39% of nonprofit organizations that disbanded between 2002-2011 served neighborhoods where more than 20% of the population lived in poverty and more than 40% of residents were Black. As stated by our President and CEO, Antonia Hernández, “CCF believes that systems can only change when communities are resourced and can advocate for what they know they need.”

CCF continues to stand with the Black community by advancing systemic change and community empowerment to address root causes and structural inequities affecting underserved and underinvested communities. We are a catalytic driver for change towards an equitable Los Angeles County by amplifying community-led efforts and capacity at a local and regional level through grantmaking, lending, fundraising, stewardship, convening, advocacy, communications, power-building, power sharing, and multi-sector partnerships.

To that end, in 2021 CCF launched the Black Empowerment Fund (BEF) to resource Black-led and Black-empowering nonprofits to strengthen their long-term sustainability with the goal of delivering on the promise of systemic equity for Black families. Over the past three years, BEF has supported 60 nonprofits across the county, of which nearly 60% are first time CCF grantees. These mostly grassroots organizations offer community-centered solutions and services ranging from below market interest loans to Black-owned businesses, youth programming for job readiness and career awareness, and counseling services to schools, families, and individuals for mental wellness.

“Over the last several years, Our Own has impacted thousands of community stakeholders. We’ve done it all from college scholarships to building state of the art wellness facilities at high schools, focused on building student and educator mental acuity,” said Lee Johnson, co-founder of Our Own. “Through it all, we realize it takes a village! CCF is one of our partners who has supported us with intention in every facet of our growth. CCF has a dedicated team that makes us as non-profit leaders feel seen and supported on an often-thankless journey. Their resources are vast, and support is limitless. I can truly say CCF has helped us build our infrastructure in ways that have contributed to tangible and quantitative impact throughout Los Angeles.”

With this Fund, we will continue to identify nonprofits on the front lines and work closely with them to address persistent barriers that limit opportunity for the Black community to achieve quality education, safe and affordable housing, access to quality healthcare, and upward economic and social mobility—the social determinants of a thriving community. CCF is pleased to have identified and partnered with these amazing organizations because when our most vulnerable communities thrive, Los Angeles thrives.

We invite you to join us in this important work for long-term, transformational, and systemic change.

To learn more about the Black Empowerment Fund, please contact Brooke Pinnix, Business Development Officer, at bpinnix@calfund.org.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Juneteenth, visit here 

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