Celebrations of Black freedom have been held all over the Country for over 150 years to commemorate Juneteenth – the day enslaved Black Americans in Texas were told they were free on June 19, 1865. Now the country’s newest federal holiday, traditions of homegrown community celebrations continue in addition to offices and schools closing in recognition of it. To take it a step further, Vice President Kamala Harris even welcomed the community to her home for the first time to recognize this day of freedom. Harris posted images from the event on Instagram saying “I can think of no better way to celebrate Juneteenth than by spending time with community. The @SecondGentleman and I were proud to welcome families to our home for the first-ever Juneteenth celebration at the Vice President’s Residence”.
But what’s next and how do we continue to push the needle forward by combating social injustice that’s still alive and well in BIPOC? Understanding that there’s still more work to be done, One Solution, the award-winning division of Urban One and Chevrolet will explore historical, contemporary, and future Black experiences against the racialized ideals of the American Dream on remarkable special episodes of the award-winning podcast, More Than That with Gia Peppers, and new cross-platform campaign, Real Talk Drives Real Change with a four-market tour that begins in June through September with content shared on Urban One platforms for worldwide viewing.
We sat down with two cultural icons who are using their voices and platforms to curate valuable conversations that they hope will bridge the gap and move our nation forward.
Legendary Civil Rights leader Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis has 60 years of experience in leading on the frontline of civil rights, human rights, and socio-political issues that has become a template for engagement throughout American activism and movements across the world. For Dr. Chavis, progress is the goal. “Progress is us having this discussion. Progress is getting more African Americans to own the media channels,” Chavis shared. “ We’re in a multimedia world and I think while there’s discussion today about diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly in the media, we need to also approach it from an entrepreneur perspective. An ownership perspective. So to me, progress today means that we’ll not only make our economic progress, our political progress, but we’ll also hold on to our culture. I think the culture gives us rise to why we have to keep pushing for freedom, justice and equality”.
Chavis went on to share how proud he is of young people today, the massive talent they hold and the impact they can have because it. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I want to flip that. It takes a child well educated, well endowed with the culture to raise the village”.
Speaking of young people using their talents to raise the village, Gia Peppers – Host of More Than That with Gia Peppers is committed to authentically taking up space, amplifying the voices of Black creators, and reminding her viewers of their innate greatness through original content, inspiring interviews, and more. We spoke with the award winning entertainment journalist about the term freedom and what it means to her.
“It’s one of the things in our Juneteenth episode that we really dive into,” Peppers said. “I think at the basis it’s being able to live life safely, joyfully, abundantly without anybody trying to harm you because of who God made you to be. It’s being able to be safe to go to the grocery store and safe to go to school and safe to go to the movies and safe to go where ever you need to go, especially for Black people in this country”. We are not there yet, where everybody has the safe pursuit of happiness and joy and liberty and justice for all. Justice for us (Black people) is still a constant fight unfortunately”.
Peppers reflected on her own interview with Dr. Ben Chavis on More Than That and shared that her favorite part of their conversation was “hearing his struggle in the original civil rights movement and how he was a teenager learning at the feet of Dr. King. But it also saddens me that he still has to be in this fight and that this country still has so much work to do”.
Over the years, Juneteenth has become more than just a celebration of the freedom of Black people, but also a celebration of Black people now sitting at tables, owning major companies, leading organizations, staring in leading roles and more, when not too long ago those opportunities were not available to us.
Peppers expressed her gratitude towards seeing Black people occupying and dominating some of those spaces. “I am really proud of Black doctors because they are often the difference makers in whether someone lives or dies because of the biases that was created in medicine because they assumed that Black people did not feel pain in the same way. When a Black doctor sees you and hears you…that’s the difference between your sister or friend coming home or not. So when we have conversation about advocacy and Black people in health care, that makes me super proud”.
We want to encourage you to be the change you want to see. Let’s continue the conversations, bring awareness, make plans to stop social injustices, financial illiteracy, and other BIPOC community issues. And from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King shared to Dr. Ben Chavis, “ a leader doesn’t’ ask someone to do something that that leader is not willing to do himself”.
Let’s ALL get to work!
For up-to-date information about “More Than That with Gia Peppers” and “Real Talk Drives Real Change” please click HERE.