How are you and your company going to commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth this year?
Before diving in and highlighting what companies are doing, we want to share an important framing, inspired by a LinkedIn post by Aaisha Joseph: no amount of PR-friendly corporate statements or flashy moves will make up for investing the time, effort, and money in pursuing actively anti-racist policies at work.
That means that without a thorough policy review for unfair hiring, evaluation, or promotion policies; without doing a salary analysis and salary adjustments to identify and close the wage gap between Black and white employees; without asking for diverse slates of candidates in your hiring and creating environments for those candidates to succeed and move up the ranks of your organization; and without putting Black employees in leadership positions (and ensuring they're not pushed off the "glass cliff" while doing it), saying you're anti-racist—or celebrating Juneteenth—isn't enough.
It's a start. But we all need to push our companies to keep going long beyond that.
That being said, you can take a look at ways that some companies are acknowledging their mistakes and making steps to create more inclusive workplaces by commemorating #Juneteenth: https://bit.ly/3q3RjpY
Some people understand Juneteenth as the celebration of the end of slavery. But that's not quite it.
Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. That was technically the day slavery ended in the U.S.
But enslaved people in Texas didn't know that until two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and told still-enslaved Black people there of their freedom and of the end of the Civil War.
The day turned into an important holiday for the Black community in Texas and beyond, particularly so after 1872, when a group of Black community leaders bought 10 acres of land in Houston and created Emancipation Park.
Now, big cities—including Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Houston—hold large events, parades, and festivals celebrating the day, and individual families and communities often gather to share food and celebrate.
As of Thursday, June 17, 2021, Juneteenth is, finally, *officially* a federal U.S. holiday.