Monday, June 19, marked Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Texas were finally informed of the Emancipation Proclamation that ensured their freedom—almost 2 1/2 years after it was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
For centuries Juneteenth was marked largely by the Black community. But in June 2021, a year after the historic racial justice uprisings sparked by George Floyd’s murder, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday and calling it “a day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country—what I’ve long called America’s original sin.”
To commemorate Juneteenth, YES! is launching a series of interviews conducted in Atlanta at a recent conference organized by the Decolonizing Wealth Project. The Alight, Align, Arise conference helped to mobilize the movement for reparations for Black Americans.
Edgar Villanueva, principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital and author of the bestselling book, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, spoke with YES! Racial Justice Editor Sonali Kolhatkar in Atlanta about the conference and the movement for reparations.
This video is part of Realizing Reparations, an exclusive digital series exploring the leading edges of the reparations ecosystem—and revealing a path toward healing and reconciliation.
This series was funded by a grant from Liberated Capital, a fund of Decolonizing Wealth Project, which is led by Edgar Villanueva, of the Lumbee tribe, and works globally to disrupt the existing systems of moving and controlling capital using education and healing programs, radical reparative giving, and storytelling. Reporting and production of the series was funded by this grant, but YES! maintained full editorial control of the content published herein. Read our editorial independence policy.
Sonali Kolhatkar is currently the racial justice editor at YES! Media and a writing fellow with Independent Media Institute. She was previously a weekly columnist for Truthdig.com. She is also the host and creator of Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations. Sonali won First Place at the Los Angeles Press Club Annual Awards for Best Election Commentary in 2016. She also won numerous awards including Best TV Anchor from the LA Press Club and has also been nominated as Best Radio Anchor 4 years in a row. She is the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, and the co-director of the nonprofit group, Afghan Women's Mission. Her forthcoming book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights, 2023). She has a Master’s in Astronomy from the University of Hawai’i, and two undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. She reflects on her professional path in her 2014 TEDx talk, “My Journey From Astrophysicist to Radio Host.” She can be reached at sonalikolhatkar.com