Home Juneteenth: Recognition important, real change takes more than 24 hours

Juneteenth: Recognition important, real change takes more than 24 hours

Crystal Graham
Sabrina Burress Arrow Project
Sabrina Burress

Juneteenth is a federal holiday that commemorates African American freedom and the end of slavery. For many in the United States, it’s a day off work, and unfortunately, not much else.

While the national recognition is important, one local nonprofit leader doesn’t think 24 hours is enough.

“I think for my work, as a nonprofit leader, as a community stakeholder, as a changemaker, it is a lovely moment of recognition, right? Recognition is important,” said Sabrina Burress, executive director of the ARROW Project and chair of the Staunton Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission. “I think that there’s so much more beyond that.”

Burress, even outside of her work on the DEI commission, wants to advance equity and inclusion throughout the community.

“Can I go to a business and talk to you about what equity looks like? And what inclusion looks like? Can I talk to a board about how to develop an appropriately diverse board to support whatever your work is?” she said.

“Even outside of the work that I’m doing as part of the DEI Commission, diversity and equity and inclusion is something that is a part of every piece of bit of work that I do across the community.”

Juneteenth is also a time when businesses are reminded to take stock in their own strategies to create meaningful change in the workplace.

“It’s not just Monday that work is done,” Burress said. “It’s every day. I hope that these days and points of recognition will lead folks to have more interest and desire to do things outside of just 24 hours.”

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.