“America is a promise. A promise of freedom, liberty and justice,” Vice President Kamala Harris declared last week at a Juneteenth celebration on the White House’s South Lawn. “The story of Juneteenth, as we celebrate it, is the story of our ongoing fight to realize that the promise is not for some, but for all.”

Last Tuesday’s affair, attended by EBONY at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, was a time to honor Black culture, Black achievements and community. While serving as a United States Senator, Harris was proud to co-sponsor a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. And as vice president, she had what she calls, the honor of  standing beside President Joe Biden, as he signed the legislation that finally made that dream a reality.

For Harris, the White House’s first Juneteenth jubilee was a goal actualized. But it was also an opportunity for the Biden-Harris administration to reflect on the progress they’ve made for Black Americans. 

Over the past two years of Joe Biden’s leadership, the country has seen considerable progress in the areas of social justice, environmental justice, employment, healthcare and education. With that has come criticism and challenges, but a fair amount to celebrate. 

As Harris noted during her remarks, the labor force has seen the creation of more than 13 million jobs and the country has achieved record low Black unemployment. Job numbers posted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in February—exactly two years after Biden took office—showed that the unemployment rate had dropped to 3.4 percent, thanks, in part, to the more than a half million jobs created in January and 800,000 manufacturing jobs created in the last two years.

The administration touted this achievement at the time as proof that Biden’s economic plan was working, and continue to share receipts of the progress they’ve made in various areas. Harris added that under their leadership, the cost of insulin for seniors has been capped at $35 a month—a true victory for the Black community’s aging population. In 2018, African American adults were 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, thus, relying more heavily on life-saving drugs like insulin.

And despite several mass shootings since the new administration has taken the reins, there have been efforts to help address gun violence in our communities. In 2022, the federal government passed The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—what Harris declared as one of the most significant federal gun safety legislations in 30 years to help protect our communities from the war of gunfire. “We will keep fighting to pass the assault weapons ban because all people have the right to be safe,” Harris imparted.

Legislation aside, Harris recognized the fact that since taking office, more Black judges have been appointed to the federal appellate bench than any administration, brimming with pride while speaking on the nomination and confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. She also added that the nearly $7 billion invested in HBCUs — an historic level of federal funding — has helped these institutions not only survive, but has allowed their students to flourish.

“We have done this in acknowledgment of the fact that they are centers of academic excellence,” Harris said, “and to make sure our young leaders can succeed after they graduate we will continue to fight for student debt relief.”

Indeed with an HBCU grad in the White House things have changed. The White House’s first Juneteenth celebration is proof of that. Never before has the South Lawn seen a Tennessee State vs Morgan State battle of the bands, or Method Man playing MC to an HBCU tradition. 

“Now this is some Black stuff right here, baby,” the New York-born rapper quipped during his hosting set. “Right here on the White House Lawn.”