By TIM ROWDEN
The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)-St. Louis Chapter observed Juneteenth, commemorating the official freeing of the last enslaved Black people in the United States following the Civil War, on Friday, June 19, 2020 with a Day of Action in downtown St. Louis.
Juneteenth is a day of profound meaning to Black workers, and should be for all working people who cherish and defend the freedom to live our own lives, speak with our own voices and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
This year in particular, with attention focus on the police killings of unarmed Black Americans, and the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, it was a day to call attention to the continuing economic disparity and exploitation that persist for Black Americans. With unemployment in America at record levels due to the pandemic, the official U.S. unemployment rate is 13.3 percent, but the Black unemployment rate is 16.8 percent, disproportionately impacting Black women.
For Labor, this troubled time in our nation is a time to reaffirm our understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all, that Black Lives Matter and to say out loud the names of those we have lost to racist violence.