For the first time, New Rochelle officially observed Juneteenth today with a flag raising at City Hall.

For many people, Juneteenth has long been a significant annual celebration marking the end of slavery.  And for many others, the occasion has passed year after year with little or no awareness.

Even in a community like ours — that prides itself on diversity and inclusion and that has a remarkable heritage of black leadership — there are enormous gaps in experience and perspective that make it more difficult to stand in each other’s shoes and fully appreciate the challenges that shape our lives.  But perhaps that is beginning to change.

As our nation focuses intently on issues of racial equality, I hope that this morning’s flag-raising can serve not only to look back on an event of great historical significance, but, even more, as a symbol of our forward-looking commitment to a just and inclusive society.

Happy Juneteenth.

UPDATE:  Here’s video of this morning’s ceremony: