Michelle Allison is King County Metro’s General Manager
Ahead of the observed holiday, I would like to take a moment and recognize the significance of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865, when the descendants of Africans brought to America as enslaved people were finally freed from bondage. It recognizes the day in Galveston, Texas, that came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, officially ending the Civil War.
Seeds of the celebration were spread across the United States as the descendants of those who spent their lives in bondage moved from Texas. They took the date, June 19, and the joy this date commemorates into the communities they lived in. Those seeds bloomed into the Juneteenth holiday, recognized by the County and federally with events ensuring that Juneteenth serves as a day of remembrance and a reminder to keep moving forward.
As I reflect on Juneteenth, I think about the ways in which Metro can help drive change. Our goal is to provide transportation that is equitable and safe for all, and I see evidence of that in the work we are leading. For example, our Safety, Security, and Fare Enforcement (SaFE) Initiative continues to focus on programs that ensure the dignity of those who have faced systematic racial inequalities in our society, using the recommendations and feedback we received from community members and employees. Better understanding how safety and equity intersect will strengthen our efforts to be become an anti-racist organization.
I am proud to lead a county agency that strives to celebrate diversity every day, and I recognize we must do better. It is crucial to acknowledge and address the continuing racial disparities in our region to build better communities for everyone.
Metro’s work towards creating a more equitable mobility system is not easy, but it is meaningful and necessary. I hope we all can remain encouraged, inspired, and buoyed by the memories of those who never stopped pushing toward freedom and all that is celebrated on Juneteenth.
“Nothing ever stops; it divides and multiplies, and I guess sometimes it gets ground down superfine, but it doesn’t just blow away.” ― Ralph Ellison, Juneteenth