This Saturday marks the first year in which Juneteenth will be celebrated as a state holiday. On the one hand, celebrating Freedom Day is a worthy celebration. On the other hand, it makes me want to pause and note how far we have not come and how much more work we have to do.

I do not want to get into the ins and outs of what Juneteenth is and is not. I would encourage anyone who wants a serious examination of why Juneteenth is referred to as Freedom Day to read the last chapter of W.E.B. Du Bois’ book Black Reconstruction in America. The chapter Propaganda of History does a wonderful job taking apart the revisionist history of the Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed.

Regardless of the arguments for or against Juneteenth being the day in which African Americans should celebrate their freedom, what is clear is the 40 acres and a mule never materialized. Attempts at creating black wealth were sabotaged by race riots in which wealthy black communities were terrorized for being successful such as the one most recently remembered in Tulsa, Okla. On the Island, we had our impediments to creating wealth with restrictive deeds that kept African Americans from owning land on certain parts of the Island — even in Oak Bluffs.

Our country has not successfully gone through a truth and reconciliation process like South Africa did after Apartheid. Therefore, we live with the systemic racism that permeates every corner of society. The death of George Floyd made many aware of the plight of African Americans in the United States. Whether it’s WGBH calling out the Steamship Authority for not awarding a single contract to black-owned businesses, or a former member of the Tisbury school committee and high school committee calling out the school leadership for allowing 39 students to drop out over three years, our community still has work to do. The Island is not immune from the legacy of slavery that has kept many of us from doing our best work because we are not invited to participate. I was reminded at this past Saturday’s Trans Resistance March and Vigil for Trans lives, in the current environment, it is up to us to create our own seats at the table, as the organizers of that event did with Boston’s Pride.

This year the Martha’s Vineyard Branch of the NAACP is celebrating Juneteenth by partnering with Experience Martha’s Vineyard to promote black restaurant and retail week. To that end, I ask that you celebrate Freedom Day with friends and family by spending your dollars at black-owned businesses and encouraging others to

do the same. I believe this is one of the best ways of celebrating Juneteenth. If you look at the short list of black-owned restaurants and retail shops, you will quickly realize there are only a few, even though Martha’s Vineyard is a destination for African Americans from around the world.

Spending money at black-owned businesses that survived the pandemic is the least we can do to ensure that our freedom comes with self-determination. From June 19-27, we will be running a social media contest to encourage the general public to spend money at these businesses. I hope to quantify our call to action by witnessing members and the public tag themselves eating at Biscuits or Sarah Browns or buying clothes at C’est La Vie or the many other options listed. Thanks to India Rose from Experience Martha’s Vineyard for working

with the Martha’s Vineyard Branch of

the NAACP to organize the Island’s first black restaurant and retail week. I hope it will become an annual event.

Juneteenth is a time to reflect on how far we have come, but let’s not get busy patting each other on the back; we have a lot more work to do to have true freedom. Please go out and spend some time at black-owned businesses, ask the owners how they are doing and consider using that business for your next family cookout or spa day.

While I am happy the Massachusetts Governor made Juneteenth a state holiday, I am angry that the Steamship Authority can’t figure out how to spend a single dollar with a black-owned company or that 39 students dropped out of our local high school.

Happy Freedom Day. Now, go out and get in good trouble.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Oak Bluffs

The writer is president of the Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the NAACP.