Juneteenth is the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. Celebrated on the 19th of June, Juneteenth marks the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read to enslaved African Americans in Texas in 1865 by General Granger. Because Texas was the last confederate state to announce the proclamation following the Civil War, June 19th also represents emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the confederacy.
General Granger read the following:
[…] in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.
In some ways, Juneteenth is a reminder of how equality has always been delayed in our country for Black Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in September, 1862, but its effects were not felt throughout our country until June, 1865, two and a half years later. And we are still not at a place of equity 155 years later—in our communities, in our workplaces, in our country.
Recognizing the important historical role of Juneteenth, marking it as a day of celebration and education, is just one small yet critical step in standing with the Black community and in telling the American history from all lenses, not just that of the white Americans. Every year, we must also remind ourselves that Juneteenth is only the start of a series of events, challenges, and responsibilities endured by the Black community in pursuit of equity.
From this year forward, Ellevate will recognize Juneteenth as an official company holiday. We will close our doors each June 19th to allow our entire community the time to celebrate and reflect on this historic day. We urge you to raise this point within your organization, calling for formal recognition of Juneteenth as a company holiday. To aid your efforts, we have created the following template you can use to email your HR or People Operations teams to officially recognize Juneteenth.
Photo credits: Creator: Vitalii Abakumov | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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