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In this blog post, PCR alumna Amilia Rosa explains the background of the Juneteenth holiday (aka Freedom Day), and shares how she plans to celebrate this holiday while supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the African American community.

Amilia & Family getting D'Alba Award

My name is Amilia Rosa. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Philadelphia City Rowing women’s team from 2015 until I graduated in 2018. As an African-American and Latina woman, traditions are extremely valued in both of my cultures. Celebrating the holiday of Juneteenth is one that my mother’s side of the family and I have embraced in recent years.

Juneteenth celebrates the day of June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas. The orders stated that all enslaved individuals in Texas were free. This federal order was extremely important in that it represented the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederate States. Juneteenth occurred two years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

With the state of our country today, celebrating how far African Americans have come is essential. Approximately 155 years ago every single enslaved African American was emancipated. Today, African Americans still suffer from the effects of a society that is systemically against them. Let this joyous day be a reminder of not only how far we've come, but also of how far we have to go. Your family, friends, and teammates of color need your support now more than ever.

Amilia coaching

This year, my family, friends, and teammates will celebrate Juneteenth by further educating ourselves on the history and plight of African Americans. We plan to donate to organizations and bail funds that support the Black Lives Matter movement. We are also contributing to protests in any way we can, whether that’s being on the front lines, donating supplies, or giving them our support. Please remember that this is a movement, not a moment, and keep fighting the good fight. Happy Juneteenth!

If you are looking for tips on how to write or talk about slavery, we recommend reading this community-sourced document curated by Professor Gabrielle Foreman. You can read the document here:

Amilia Rosa is a Criminal Justice Major and NCAA Division I rower at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. Amilia rowed for PCR from 2015-2018 and earned the Edward M. D'Alba Leadership Award Scholarship in 2018. In 2019, Amilia returned to the Schuylkill River to coach the PCR summer learn-to-row program.