Juneteenth Reflection

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Our culture is preserved and respected when the businesses in our neighborhoods are for us and by us. Our humanity is recognized, and we have safe spaces to just ‘be.’ Our people are cared for by the opportunities we create to support and build up one another. The ripple effects are boundless.

This year Juneteenth falls on Sunday, June 19, and ProsperUs, along with many others, will be observing the holiday on June 20. This important day celebrates the freedom from enslavement as well as the resilience of the Black community. Juneteenth celebrations often include music, cookouts, prayer services, and many other traditions passed on as Black people migrated from the southern parts of the United States to other parts of the country and beyond. This year, the celebrations have spread even farther and wider.

Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or Second Independence Day, Juneteenth, is one of the most important anniversaries in our nation’s history. It’s a reminder that we are our ancestors’ dreams and that Black joy may be the sweetest resistance. Through our ancestors’ dreams, we have been afforded the opportunity to create our own. Despite all the obstacles we still face, we are building legacies that honor their involuntary sacrifice. On this day, we honor all they endured while uplifting and empowering ourselves and each other.

As the Executive Director of ProsperUs, my team and I work to support entrepreneurs and businesses throughout Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. We have worked alongside Black entrepreneurs to overcome systems that were designed to keep us from achieving our dreams. Through our work, we have witnessed the passion and perseverance to not only overcome but to excel. That freedom to strive for excellence is cause for celebration.

I want to pass along two important messages this Juneteenth: I wish for all people to step up and support Black entrepreneurs. To step up and support Black businesses. Through this support, we will be able to take steps toward countering the generations of free labor, wealth extraction, and exclusion from economic opportunity. Through the work we do at ProsperUs, we’re dedicated to changing the systems that were created to keep Black people from building wealth, well-being, and joy.

To the Black community, I want to encourage you to keep working towards your dreams. The circumstances and systems you often navigate are still unfair and inequitable, and you deserve better. At ProsperUs, we understand that truth and are here to support you as you build businesses. We’re always working to provide the resources you deserve, and we will continue to be dedicated to your success. Collectively, we honor our ancestors and are building a better future, for ourselves and for those that come long after. You matter. We need you. ProsperUs is here to support you. Together, we prosper.

In solidarity,
Chanell Scott Contreras
Executive Director, ProsperUs Detroit

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