Juneteenth with SOLARS' Brianne Taylor

Brianne Taylor is SOLARS' Program Manager and a graduate of PTBi's Benioff Community Innovators.

On June 15th, East Oakland held the Oakland Juneteenth “In the Town” Celebration. Under one of the many brightly colored tents that lined the parking lot of the Eastmont Mall, I sat with my colleagues representing  PTBi’s SOLARS Study. SOLARS, (The Supporting Our Ladies and Reducing Stress to Prevent Preterm Birth) is one of the first, large-scale studies, led by women of color and by women who have had a preterm birth. It is designed to help us understand the impact of stress, anxiety, and racism - in addition to resilience and coping - on preterm birth in Black and Latinx women.

Brianne Taylor

The SOLARS team attended this event not only to recruit participants to the study but also to begin to build trust with the East Oakland community. Our goal is to be consistently visible and actively involved in the communities where we hope to recruit. In many ways, our presence at the Juneteenth event was symbolic of the many forms of liberation our communities continue to seek.

previous participant at Juneteenth event

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of enslaved people in the United States.  While it was declared on January 1, 1863, by President Lincoln "that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free” in the Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn’t until June of 1865 that General Gordon Granger and his troops traveled to Galveston, Texas to enforce the new law. Since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated across the nation, allowing African American communities the space to reflect on how far we’ve have come since our ancestors were enslaved and a time to re-commit to each other as a community.

As a Black woman that has worked extensively with the Preterm Birth Initiative, it was exhilarating to be at the Juneteenth event, representing the work I love and surrounded by community-based organizations that want the same thing - equitable health for all. I am passionate about SOLARS because most of my health facts were created for White women and generalized to include Black women. However, this study represents women of color harnessing the experiences of our communities to create health information for and by us. I believe that doing this work in light of our American history helps to advance our society’s perspective on minority inclusion. I am glad that today’s climate celebrates the inclusion of a long-time neglected population and I look forward to advancing this noteworthy agenda.

Happy Juneteenth!

Learn More About SOLARS