A Message from Cook County Health Leadership

Cook County Health is honored to recognize Juneteenth, the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. While Texas was one of the last states to end slavery, it wasn’t until the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865 when slavery was abolished in all U.S. states and territories.

Juneteenth provides us all an opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the future as we continue to strive for racial inclusion here in Cook County and across our country.

Equity is at the core of Cook County Health’s 185-year-old mission. We care for all patients, regardless of their race or immigration status. Stroger Hospital has been recognized as the most inclusive hospital in the State of Illinois for the last two years by the Lown Institute, and the 7th most inclusive in the nation. And while we are proud of our mission and our contribution to equity, we recognized that we can do more and we will do more.

While Juneteenth is a holiday to commemorate the liberation of the men, women and children suffering under slavery, it is also a reminder of the work that lies ahead of us as a society. For too long, our governmental entities have been complacent in the oppression and racial inequality of African Americans. But the people have demanded change. Residents of Cook County have raised awareness about the injustices that have happened here at home and across the country. Through sweeping social movements, the people have said now is the time—we can no longer wait for others to address inequalities; this is incumbent upon all of us. We have already seen changes in our city, county, state and country that provide hope that these generations-long conversations about systemic racism and equity are resulting in action.

We are celebrating a historic milestone—the collapse of one of the last bastions of slavery in our country. We are celebrating the resilience of African Americans. We are celebrating the freedoms that are the fundamental rights of each and every individual. And, we are celebrating the hope that we continue to make progress towards racial equity; that each year we come closer to eliminating the racial injustices and structural racism that have no place in our communities.

Israel Rocha, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer, Cook County Health

Shannon Andrews
Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, Cook County Health