President Joe Biden today signed legislation to make Juneteenth (June 19) a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America. While it represents a major milestone in American history, especially for African Americans who for generations have celebrated this event that symbolically represents freedom, its recognition carries with it today’s urgent need to protect and ensure equal access to the ballot box for all people, no matter who they are, where they live or their political affiliation.
We still have much work to do as a country and realize, in the words of the late Congressman John Lewis, a fearless civil rights leader and health center champion, that “we have come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the beloved community, a nation at peace with itself.” As health care provider advocates, let’s honor his legacy and our mission by urging Congress to move forward quickly to pass strong voting rights laws.
Note: NACHC will close its offices on Friday, June 18 this year in honor of Juneteenth and as a day of reflection and recommitment to equality and justice for all.
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.