A hundred and fifty five years ago, Union army general Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas announcing that all slaves were free. For years, many in the black community have celebrated this day as Juneteenth.
This year, as protesters around the country continue to gather and speak out against racial injustice and police brutality, many companies – including Adobe, the Arizona Cardinals, Best Buy, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, JC Penney, Lyft, Mastercard, The New York Times, Nike, the NFL, Postmates, Square, Target, Twitter, and Vox Media – are making Juneteenth a permanent paid holiday, this year and all years moving forward.
As with nearly every action we can take to combat systemic racism, observing Juneteenth is clearly not enough. In some ways, it’s merely symbolic. But perhaps this move can be just one more way in which we shift toward a country where black lives are not only acknowledged as valuable but celebrated, and where we regularly take a moment to reflect on our painful, terrible mistakes and consider how we can continue to undo them. And perhaps it can be the start of a major push toward a national holiday where we celebrate this part of our nation’s history.
Is your organization observing Juneteenth as a national holiday? If no, why not?
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