Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu. Let us celebrate Juneteenth!

Dear TGI Community –  let us celebrate Juneteenth and honor freedom! 

Today marks the first celebration of Juneteenth – the anniversary of the day that the Emancipation Proclamation reached the last U.S. state under confederate control to bring freedom to enslaved Africans.

We know the story of America is violent, hopeful, aspirational and complicated.

The Graduate Institute fosters holistic thinking and perspectives that help our community develop capacity together so we can hold multiple perspectives, build empathy, and live with ambiguity.

We learn and grow together both in the classroom, as well as with our families, our work colleagues, and in our home communities.

As we join with our Black siblings in remembrance and celebration today, we focus on freedom and hope.


Juneteenth band. Photograph by Grace Murray Stephenson of celebrations in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900.

It took two years for the Union army to reach all of the confederate states and declare liberation for the enslaved Africans there. Freedom wasn’t immediate, and relief wasn’t guaranteed. We know the history of African slavery in this country is traumatic, and African Americans, and Black Americans continue to be marginalized across all sectors of society. And yet, there was celebration in the streets.

That year and in the 156 years since, Juneteenth celebrations are a recognition of hope for a future that was different from the present, and are, in themselves, an act of resistance.

Today we remember together the pain and the suffering. And today we celebrate freedom and liberating futures.

Ubuntu is an African term that describes a new vision of humanity.

Here is how Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Ubuntu:

“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

We encourage you to learn more about Black liberation in the U.S. by engaging with this reading list from the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center, for adults, and this one for kids and teens.

You can read scholarly articles, curated by the Journal Storage Digital Library, here.

Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu.

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Cultivating ‘Soul Force’ in a fragmented world – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,  Martin Luther King, Jr. takes a passionate stand for equality, freedom, and democracy.  He was able to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. While acknowledging the cruelty and injustice of racial inequality, he was also able to invite a sane and loving road back to wholeness.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.

 “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. … we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

So, what is ‘soul force’, and how do you get it?

As we mark this historic day, it may be helpful to see the connection between  King’s wise words spoken 57 years ago, words that electrified the country and the emerging holistic worldview.

“For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom…We cannot walk alone…We cannot turn back.”

I think the power of his speech lies in its ability to resonate a deeper vulnerable truth of love and belonging. The nature of reality appears to be interconnected, not separate.  We need each other and we belong together because we are one household, nobody is less or more important than another.

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to reach beyond anger and egoic mind structures to offer a vision of what was possible. Like concentration camp survivor, psychiatrist, and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” – Viktor Frankl wrote that he gave up the notion of being rescued from the horrors of daily life but he knew that giving in to his fear and rage would eat him alive and the Nazi’s truly would’ve taken over his soul. Instead, he chose to see what was possible and spent his days offering comfort to other camp members.  He took agency of his reality. Maybe that is ‘soul force’.

On 60 Minutes last night, there was a segment about the political unrest in the country and the question was asked. ‘Who are we?’  It may be worth starting with the question,’ Who do we think we are?’

King’s ‘soul force’ was felt that day in 1963 and still resonates. People’s hearts lifted with a sense of possibility, connection, and love. That was his dream and it feels like the collective couldn’t be further from that right now.

Mindfulness practice helps us look within and see our  ‘soul force’ and the fragmentation that blocks it.

Having the courage to mindfully see the way we show up in our own lives and lovingly heal our own wounds begins to melt the illusion of separation so we can learn to meet our intolerance and resistance with something more helpful, loving, and creative.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.”  –Viktor Frankl

This week, we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King. In reflecting on his writings and speeches, do you have one that speaks to you at this time? What is your perspective on the ‘soul force’  and how can it show up in your life? Let us know in the comments below. 

Kim Ruggiero, MA

Blog is written by Kimberly Ruggiero.

Kimberly Ruggiero is a long time meditator. She works as a transformational coach and artist. She has a BS in Chemistry, MA in Consciousness Studies and studied at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art. Kim has training in MBSR and is certified through the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. She works as a Program Coordinator in Integrative Health and Healing and facilitates a Mindfulness Meditation Group at TGI –  every Tuesday evening online –  http://holisticperspectives.org/events/


Image source:

Caption reads, “[Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mathew Ahmann in a crowd.], 8/28/1963” Original black and white negative by Rowland Scherman. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (The National Archives and Records Administration). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. ca. 1953-ca. 1978. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/542015

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