This week Alameda Health System (AHS) commemorated Juneteenth at the Wilma Chan Highland Hospital campus cafeteria. On Monday, June 13 the affinity group Black Employees and Allies Network (BEAN) hosted an informational table with giveaways and a raffle.

Sheleka Carter, community health worker and advocate in care management is a member of (BEAN) and shared that the tabling event was a great start in educating and celebrating Juneteenth across AHS. “There are many opportunities we can explore to acknowledge and celebrate this historic day every year,” said Carter. “Juneteenth is a celebration but also a symbol for generations to come that there is much work to be done to achieve equity and equality.”

On Tuesday, June 14 employees were treated to an engaging visual history of the Black experience told in a series of art collages created by AHS Chaplain Betty Clark. The collages illustrate African Americans’ extraordinary contributions to American history, arts and culture. It is also a powerful visual representation of the Black experience from the roots of slavery to the prejudice, poverty and systemic racism that are still woven into the fabric of American life today.

The granddaughter of slaves, Clark also shared her poignant story of growing up in Kentucky, attending school in a one-room schoolhouse and working alongside her parents and extended family as sharecroppers who grew tobacco.

“My story is part of the Black experience in this country and it’s important for everyone to understand that Black history is American history,” said Clark. “It should be part of the standard curriculum in schools.” Clark’s series of collages along with a framed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation will be featured in the cafeteria for the next week, June 19 – June 24.

Declared a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of Black slaves. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

“At AHS we join all of our staff, patients and the community we serve in observing Juneteenth by honoring the sacrifices, and celebrating the contributions made by African Americans,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Lorna Jones. “Together we share an unwavering commitment to health equity, diversity and inclusion and to creating an environment where everyone feels seen, heard and valued.”