Dear JCCA Colleagues,

I write to you today to wish you a joyous Juneteenth and meaningful Father’s Day.

Being a father to my amazing daughter, Maya, who just turned 12 years old in May (I can hardly believe it!), has transformed what love means to me. Opening my heart and growing my family has always underscored, for me, what’s at stake in the work we do at JCCA.

Knowing the joy of fatherhood is about experiencing its challenges, fears, and pain. I’ve still not shaken the thought of the unimaginable grief felt by fathers losing children, or children losing fathers, in the recent well-publicized incidents of gun violence, and in the incidents that don’t garner much press at all. I think every day about my dad’s  experiences––fleeing the Nazi persecution as a child and  being separated from his parents––which, in some indirect way, led me to a career focused on children and families.

His story is a reminder that the traumas of the past cast a long shadow over the present—a lesson worth remembering as we commemorate Juneteenth. Though Juneteenth is now being observed as a Federal holiday, it traces its origin to June 19th, 1865, when the Union Army arrived in Galveston and proclaimed the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas (the last state to eradicate institutional slavery.)  As Campus senior vice president Trevor John mentioned at Thursday’s Juneteenth Campus Jubilee, “The slaves in Galveston knew that emancipation was only a first step. And we’ve been marching ever since, from Galveston, to the Civil Rights movement, to BLM. This is a moment to reflect and recommit to the work that remains undone. And to remember that, despite the challenges, there is still cause for hope.”

Working toward racial justice is not easy. It is difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable or even scary, to advocate for liberation. Fatherhood is also complex and full of challenging moments. That is exactly why we need to take moments like these to celebrate, reflect and connect with each other.

Wishing you a meaningful Father’s Day and Juneteenth,