June 19, 1865, marks the day when enslaved individuals in Texas finally learned of their freedom, two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This historic moment, now celebrated nationally as Juneteenth, underscores the ongoing struggle for liberty and justice in America. Since becoming a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth serves not only as a day of celebration but also as a reminder of the persistent challenges faced by Black and brown communities.

At Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, we recognize that the principles of freedom, democracy, and individual rights must extend to environmental justice. Historically, environmental policies have often failed to serve these communities equitably, leading to significant disparities in exposure to environmental hazards. Communities of color and low-income neighborhoods disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution, living near toxic release facilities and unregulated coal ash dumps that contaminate water supplies and endanger health.

Many African American residents in the Lothian community in Anne Arundel County live near mining sites and wastewater treatment plants, which are often noncompliant with operating permits. In Baltimore City, Curtis Bay is home to the largest medical waste incinerator in America, and the agrochemical production has created some of the country’s highest asthma and respiratory illness rates.

Our recent Listen Lead Share session in Salisbury, Maryland, revealed the ongoing struggles faced by the Haitian Creole community. Residents expressed feeling neglected and ignored, with significant concerns about air quality, waste, and fumes emanating from the Perdue chicken plant. Language barriers have prevented many from properly receiving or contributing vital information, further exacerbating their challenges. This session highlighted the urgent need for better communication and more equitable environmental policies.

Environmental justice is integral to our mission. We draw inspiration from pioneers like Dr. Wangari Maathai and Dr. Robert Bullard, whose work has highlighted the intersection of race and environmental issues. Their efforts remind us that the fight for civil rights and environmental justice are deeply interconnected. Today, the legacy of their activism continues to guide us as we strive for a more equitable and sustainable future.

IPC celebrates Juneteenth not only because of its historical significance, but also because of its relevance to our current environmental struggles. We celebrate this day to remember the ongoing fight for environmental justice for our marginalized, Black and brown, and low income communities. Therefore, we invite you to join us for one of the Juneteenth & Solstice Celebrations that we are hosting on June 19th:

One Water Partnership Juneteenth & Solstice Celebration Liberation & Light: Juneteenth Solstice Celebration
Date & Time: Wednesday, June 19, 2024,
from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Date & Time: Wednesday, June 19, 2024,
from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Location: Leakin Park
2000 Sloman Dr, Baltimore, MD 21207
Location: Pemberton Historical Park
5561 Plantation Ln, Salisbury, MD 21801
Contact: Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or
Contact: Erin Stubbs at [email protected] or

The Juneteenth holiday reminds us to address environmental injustices and strive for a more sustainable and equitable future, ensuring clean air, clean water, and safe environments for all communities. As we celebrate, let's recommit to creating a world where everyone can thrive, regardless of race or income.

We hope you join us for a day of reflection, celebration, and connection as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the future.

Antoinette Rucker


Advocacy Coordinator