Say Hey, Kids: It’s Juneteenth Day!


Yesterday, we celebrated Juneteenth.


Olga Tsikarishvili/AdobeStock


Yesterday was Juneteenth National Independence Day. It commemorates an effective end of slavery in the United States, the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved in Texas were freed. This, though, was 2 and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, it became the longest-running African-American holiday before becoming a federally recognized in 2021.

We lived in nearby Houston, Texas from 1977-89 and Juneteenth had great meaning, reminding us of one of the many delays in the processing of our slave history in the midst of the joyfulness in antiracism progress. Psychologically, we know of the intergenerational transmission of the trauma of the slavery and the ensuing racial traumas to this day.

The day before Juneteenth, as if on his usual dramatic cue, Willie Mays, nicknamed the “Say Hey Kid,” died at the age of 93 and was eulogized around the country yesterday. He was a pioneer in becoming the 6th Black player in the baseball major leagues and one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all time, immortalized in “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series. I was 8 years old at the time and watching it on our new TV. I wanted to be a major league baseball player. Along with the Black Cuban, Minnie Miñoso, who was to come to play soon for my hometown Chicago White Sox, Willie Mays was one of my favorites. That helped me on whatever antiracist development I had that led to my focus on underserved and underserved minority groups in my clinical and administrative career.

Like Juneteenth Day in 1865 Texas, we in psychiatry have progressed in addressing racism, but often at a delay. A clear sign of recent progress is the American Psychiatric Association’s new CEO, Marketa M. Willis, MD, MBA. May Juneteenth, Willie Mays, and she inspire us on even faster.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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