Dear Ada S. McKinley Family and Friends:
This week we celebrate Juneteenth (June 19, 1865) – the day when African American slaves in Texas received news of their freedom – two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. As we recognize this important time in American history, we are reminded that we still remain very far from justice and true equality.
Like many of you, I am angry and frustrated with current and past events. The systemic racism that lines the underbelly of our nation is horrific. Four-hundred years of the slavery of Black people, Jim Crow policies, terrorism that destroyed Black Wallstreet, red-lined real estate creating segregated and under resourced communities, educational disparities, pipeline-to-prison, basic civil rights struggles, unaddressed police brutality, attacks on affirmative action in higher education, food deserts, the Flint water crises, and now the COVID-19 pandemic is killing minorities disproportionately due to the inequalities within our health care structure.
My commitment to highlighting the issues we continue to face and moving toward fairness and progress is both personal and professional. As a CEO, I often experience that Black leadership is not always expected or welcomed. Too often, people are more comfortable with the pipeline-to-prison scenario. It is one reason why I left the for-profit world to focus on the mission-oriented work that we do. As a father of three sons and the leader of an organization founded by a Black woman because Word War I veterans were not welcomed when migrating to Chicago from the south, I do not take this platform and my experiences being Black in America for granted.
I am inspired by the work of our founder, Ada Sophia McKinley. She left Texas after losing her three children to the Diphtheria epidemic yet found the strength to relocate to Chicago and immerse herself into our political and social circles. She established our agency amid the Spanish Flu pandemic and race riots of 1919. As we battle the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our vigor in the fight against the pandemic of racism must remain strong.
What We Can Do Now
In addition to our agency’s daily efforts to empower, educate and employ people to change lives and strengthen communities, we are committed to doing even more, even in the midst of a pandemic. I encourage everyone that wants to do more to end racism to do the following:
Help People Get Resources
Ada S. McKinley has created a robust guide for resources. We ask that you widely distribute this document to help align people with their needs. It includes opportunities and services offered by Ada S. McKinley and our peers during the COVID-19 pandemic (food, housing, mental wellness, employment, education, and more). Click here to view and/or download our COVID-19 Resource and Support Guide.
Complete the Census
Do not miss your opportunity to help shape the future. The 2020 Census will determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will flow into communities every year for the next decade. It will also determine what level of representation we will have politically. An underrepresented census will create future obstacles that will further harm our community. Go to www.2020census.gov and fill out the quick and easy form. Encourage and help your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.
We are less than five months away from the national election. Learn about and support elected officials that meet your interests. Voting not only determines who serves in the White House for the next 4-8 years, it determines our Supreme Court judges, Congress Representatives, Senators, Governors, School Board Members, ballot referendums, and other laws and political leaders. A vote wasted is a vote made in favor of your opposing candidate(s). Click here to register to vote, check your registration, or vote by mail.
What We Can Do Next
The Small Business Administration just invested $2 trillion to address the COVID-19 impact. How much should the federal government invest in ending the pandemic of systemic racism? Many states are faced with billions of dollars in shortfalls due to COVID-19, which puts the Black community at further risk. We need fully funded education and human service budgets for all 50 states to combat the effects of racism.
This is a conversation we must continue to have with collaborative input from other leading organizations representing the communities we serve. Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc. is committed to doing the work required to end systemic racism.
Jamal Malone, CEO
Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.
In Memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Whitney Young, Harriet Tubman, Ada Sophia McKinley, and every person who has been a victim of or sacrificed their lives and livelihood to ending systemic racism.