June Teenth

Create Impactful Change: Learning to Celebrate Freedom on Juneteenth

By Rasheité Calhoun


Imagine being free but not actually knowing it, operating in bondage that is technically no longer holding you. And before you write this off as something you can’t exactly relate to, let me remind you that the concept of freedom isn’t one only reserved for Blacks. We all, at some point in our lives, have desired freedom. Many of us are still on the quest for liberation from something – a toxic relationship, a heart-breaking illness, a dead-end career, or mountains upon mountains of debt. Raise your hand if you wish you could be free from debt. I’m raising my hand with you. 


So indulge me for a bit. Pause for a second and choose your thing, whatever thing it is you wish you were free from. Now, lose yourself in the thought of someone telling you that you are unquestionably free from that thing – and you’ve been free for quite some time. 


How loud would you scream? How high would you jump?


For the first time ever, I’m a part of an organization who is acknowledging and celebrating Juneteenth. This isn’t a knock to any of the previous companies I’ve worked for. Full transparency, I only recently began celebrating the holiday. There is just something about Freedom Day that doesn’t always feel unquestionably or authentically free. Although I’m not physically in chains, it’s hard for my mind to accept freedom when I reflect on what it means to be Black in America. I often get lost in the fact that there are entire communities of people who still aren’t exactly free and that as a nation, as a world, as a society, we still have a long road ahead to learn and correct past and current inequities within our complex systems. 


But I stop myself from wallowing in the complexity of defining freedom – not because we don’t need the work. I stop myself because you don’t have to wait until a project is finished to take pride in positive milestones. You can celebrate at every stage while working towards completion. On Juneteenth, we recognize the end of slavery. We honor the achievements and culture of African Americans. We take a moment to celebrate hope and wrap ourselves in the delight of what it means to be Black and free. We invite our allies to continue to learn from the past, work to make changes for the future, and join us – not only in the fight but also in the celebration. 


Freedom is power, and there is triumph in being able to walk in the knowledge of freedom. While there is still more work and learning to be done, may we all find joy in the celebration of freedom for Black people across America. 


Support Juneteenth by continuing your learning journey with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) focused courses

There’s never been a more critical time to build learning and development programs that will drive your organization’s DEI progress. If you are looking for ways to amplify your organization’s DEI learning initiatives, visit our array of DEI-focused courses that help you on your company’s inclusive journey. Our seven-part DEI white paper series includes how recognizing and celebrating DEI progress can help you achieve your goals, and you can find more in our free, comprehensive DEI Toolkit full of resources to help you create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.


About the Author: Rasheité Calhoun is a Strategic Partner Manager with OpenSesame. She prides herself on bringing a fresh approach to client solutions, convinced that we are always on the cusp of something new and great. With over a decade of experience in higher ed publishing, Rasheité brings a distinct niche of problem solving and a proven track record of driving results to the elearning world. Rasheité holds both a bachelor’s degree in technical writing as well as a Master of Arts in English, which both contribute to her creative approach to strategy and solutions. Above all, Rasheité believes that we are living through a massive disruption that will transform learning into something we have all yet to see or experience. She is excited to play a role in such pivotal moments where digital, learning and imagination collide.