Juneteenth and the APsaA Community

Dorothy Holmes, Ph.D. is Chair of APsaA's Holmes Commission on Racial Equality

Photo of Dorothy Evans Holmes, Ph.D., Chair of APsaA's Holmes Commission on Racial Equality

June 17, 2021

By Bill Glover, Ph.D., President, the American Psychoanalytic Association

Today, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill establishing June 19th as a federal holiday in honor of Juneteenth, the date marking the end of slavery in the United States. It is the first new federal holiday created since 1983 when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established. The American Psychoanalytic Association commends President Biden, Vice President Harris and the members of congress who made this happen.

We recognize the holiday but must remember that June 19,1865 is the date on which 2000 federal troops led by Major General Gordon Granger came to Texas to inform African Americans that they had actually been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation that was signed on September 22, 1862. Enslaved persons in Texas were denied awareness of this fact for almost three years in order to keep the slave-based labor force intact. Today, almost 159 years later, the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation has yet to be realized.

Last year, APsaA established the Holmes Commission on Racial Equality to study and offer remedies for all aspects of racism within our organization and the broader field of psychoanalysis. It is named after and chaired by Dr. Dorothy Evans Holmes, the psychoanalyst who has broken through so many barriers in institutions including APsaA.

I reached out to Dorothy today before President Biden signed the bill, and she emphasized that Juneteenth is a day “deserving of observation and reflection,” more than something to “celebrate.”

“To me, it signifies the deep and abiding cultural tendency to deny full racial equity, to drag one’s feet, to deceive and lie to keep people captive for as long as possible, over and over again as our current cultural circumstances show,” wrote Dr. Holmes, so eloquently.

I will leave you with Dr. Holmes’ words and my own feelings of hope for the future of our country. There is much work to be done.