Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, signifies the groundbreaking moment on June 19th, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger read outloud an order in Galveston, Texas that proclaimed freedom for the last remaining slaves in the United States.
Despite the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years prior, which changed the legal status of millions of slaves from enslaved to free, many slave masters had fled to rural Texas with their slaves to escape the war.
Over 150 years later, the June 19 holiday continues to be celebrated as an important, historical moment for black and African American people in the United States.
Continue reading to learn all about Juneteenth, and how it continues to be commemorated in 2021!
Commemorating Juneteenth 2021
While it is not a national holiday, it is an official observance, with many states recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday. For example, West Virginia became the latest state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. On June 19, 2021, West Virginians will celebrate with a live-stream event that will feature over a dozen musicians, dancers, and poets from across the state.
Juneteenth is almost always focused on education and self-improvement. So, while people may or may not have the June 19 holiday off, it is important to recognize Juneteenth’s meaning and its relevance for black or African Americans in the workplace.
According to Group SJR, “the recent shift to commemorate Juneteenth in the workplace is part of an ongoing reckoning with corporate culture. Its observance, prompted by the rapidly growing momentum around Black Lives Matter (BLM), reflects the power held by employers to amplify social change and spur inquiry and education around racial inequality.”
Commemorating historical events for minority communities such as the June 19th holiday is an important part of a long-lasting and effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan.
If you are a BIPOC in the workplace and would like to discuss the meaning of Juneteenth and ways to include it in workplace DEI efforts, set up a time to talk with team members or HR professionals. Engaging leadership is one of the ways that BIPOC can have their voices heard and needs to be addressed in the workplace.
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