Officials, doctors and staffers at Cincinnati Children’s in Liberty Twp. recognized the Juneteenth holiday Friday by praying and taking a knee for the more than eight minutes to also honor George Floyd, who died in police custody last month.
Nearly 50 employees came outside on the grounds and kneeled for more than eight minutes in symbolic recognition of Minneapolis resident Floyd, a black man who had his neck knelt on by a police officer now accused of murder.
Juneteenth is the annual celebration of the official emancipation of black slaves in America in the late 1800s.
“Holy one, as we commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States, let us not forget the trials and tribulations of our African-American brothers and sisters who were forced into bondage,” said Children’s Pastor Amy Simpson as she led the group in prayer.
“Let us continue to emphasize the importance of educating ourselves about the challenges still present today and do what we can to accelerate racial justice today for black people,” said Simpson.
Richard Ruddy, chief of staff for Cincinnati Children’s Liberty campus, said the prayers and symbolic kneeling were good ways to honor the Juneteenth holiday’s historical importance while also commemorating the death of Floyd.
“Our country has been in years of racism … toward African Americans – but most recently with the increase in deaths at the hands of law enforcement,” said Ruddy.
“All men are created equal … as a hospital we believe that’s our mission to treat with everyone with respect,” he said.
Katrina Farmer, vice president of employee experience at Cincinnati Children’s, said the event was “a moment to pause and acknowledge the importance of Juneteenth in the African American community.”
“We felt it was critical important to do so. To not only take a knee – to acknowledge unfortunately the racism, the injustice and the inequities in healthcare that exists – but then to stand and come together,” said Farmer.
“Our foundational responsibility as Cincinnati Children’s is safety and that includes psychological safety … and today was about honoring who we are as an institution and coming together to pause… take the knee and then stand so we can move forward together so we can do right for each other and the kids we serve each and every day.”
Photographer Nick Graham contributed to this story
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