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Jun 19, 2023

Juneteenth—A Reason to Recognize and Run

We all run for a myriad of reasons, to improve our inner and outer selves, and our communities through signing up for races that benefit great causes, and to combat social injustice, the list is long and plentiful. We’ve Run with Maud, for George Floyd and in honor of our ancestors—and Juneteenth is also such a time to run. To mark this momentous occasion, BGR! Houston geared up in black, green, and yellow and gathered to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free, although the Emancipation Proclamation was declared by President Abraham Lincoln nearly two and half years earlier on January 1, 1863.

Juneteenth (a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth”) marks our country’s second independence day, and a century and a half later it is still one of the most important anniversaries in our nation’s history. This day has since been observed annually throughout the United States, broadly and boldly celebrating African American culture, finally becoming a recognized federal holiday in 2021 after gaining new momentum in the summer of 2020 in the wake of the nationwide protests against police killings and brutality.

Juneteenth, as with so many other milestones in our culture, is a time to commemorate, educate, evaluate, and act. Ever important in today’s society, with the denial and diminishing of some facts as it relates to our history, as evidenced in the divisive debate on critical race theory and the understanding of how its tenets have shaped public policy, criminal justice policy, and the legacy of the enslavement of Black Americans in this country.

Our run community is reminiscent of Juneteenth celebrations, whereas our experiences unify us. Growing up in Texas, Juneteenth was considered a summer rite of passage. Although we knew the magnitude of what we were celebrating—our ancestors’ blood, sweat, tears, labor, and pain—it evoked a nostalgic sense of pride and joy for life, living, and legacy.  With the current, overt social climate in this country, Juneteenth hits a little differently, recognizing how far we’ve come yet reminding us how far we still must go.

There is a myriad of reasons why I run. Running has truly changed me and my perspective on what it means to persevere, persist, resist, and be resilient. Running is my therapy, my refuge, and my self-care. It is a part of who I am. Just as the color of my skin, my challenges, my wins, and my experiences are. I also run for connection, and validation, to be seen and heard, to see and hear others, to inspire and to be inspired.

As we continue to navigate what it means to be Black in America, offer all that we have to fix our faults and failures, break generational curses, etc., we are still grateful for everything and everyone this life has to offer and for running.

By: Joy Harrell @joyrunsrealestate

Joy Harrell is a licensed real estate agent and co-owner of The Sift Sisters bakery based in Houston, Texas. She is a native Houstonian and graduate of the University of Houston—go Coogs! When she is not helping people buy, sell or invest in real estate, she can be found hanging or traveling with her hubby, running or biking the streets and trails in and around Houston, mentoring girls, or testing new food and cocktail recipes.