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From climate change navigation to the legacy of Black cowgirls, Black storytelling honors Juneteenth

by The Fuller Project June 17, 2024

This article was republished from a Fuller Project newsletter on June 17, 2024. Subscribe here.

A federal holiday since 2021, Juneteenth has loomed large in Black communities since 1865. That was when troops finally made emancipation official for enslaved people in Texas — two and a half years after slavery was outlawed by the Constitution. 

The legacy of that day has been far from straightforward. The newly freed slaves had no wealth or property, and limited opportunities to acquire either — and the path to African-American emancipation continues to oscillate between triumph and setback.

This makes Juneteenth a multi-layered celebration, one that both focuses on Black joy and reflects on the pressing inequities many African-Americans continue to face. From bearing a disproportionate burden of climate change to the enduring legacy of Black cowgirls, we’re sharing some of our favorite coverage of what it means to be Black in America.

  • Figuring out how to share bottled water and plotting out disaster routes to check on elderly neighbors — summertime means an extra layer of planning for Black families. Having long navigated disproportionate harm from climate change, they face record-breaking heat waves that threaten widespread power outages this year, with four days above 100 degrees in New Orleans in May alone. New Orleans is expected to average more than 50 blackout days a year in the near future, with loss of air-conditioning linked to heat-related illness and death. How Black Neighborhoods are preparing for Summer heat (Capital B)
  • Dubbed the ‘Black Angels,’ many Southern nurses who moved north in the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century had few options but to work in the most contagious mid-century tuberculosis clinics. But by doing so, they changed the course of medical history. The ‘Black Angels’ who helped cure tuberculosis (The Emancipator)
  • Recent breakthroughs have made the excruciatingly painful sickle cell disease — which affects mostly Black people — more bearable. But a shocking investigation by STAT reveals that some doctors have only been offering sickle cell treatment to Black women in exchange for unwanted sterilizations, and even pressuring them to reject abortions in some cases. Coercive Care: For decades, physicians have steered sickle cell patients toward sterilization (STAT) 
  • When Dr. Uché Blackstock was growing up, she thought all doctors were Black like her own pediatrician and mom. Then she learned that just 5% of U.S. doctors are Black. One of TIME Magazine’s 2024 most influential people in health, Blackstock has devoted her career correcting for the deficit she once couldn’t see. Weaving her family legacy of Black physicians with stories of systemic barriers that have blocked Black folks from equitable medical access, her new memoir reckons with the past and future of health disparities in America. A Black Physician Takes on Racism in Medicine (Scientific American)

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