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Celebrating the significance of Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, now known annually as Juneteenth, the last region of the United States was ordered to abolish slavery and comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Despite the fact that years had passed since President Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of all enslaved people, many former-Confederates fled to Texas and still held over 250,000 slaves across the state. In May of 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his men arrived in Texas to force the surrender of the last remaining Confederate Army troops who hadn’t yet heard the news of the Civil War’s end.

A few weeks later on June 19th 1865, Granger issued an order in Texas to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people in the state with “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property.” While this day is symbolic of a turning point in the abolition of slavery, it took many years to truly dismantle it, with ripple effects still impacting society today.

Initially known as “Emancipation Day,” the holiday has been celebrated by Black Americans in Texas since that day in 1865 when previously enslaved people came together as family and community to celebrate their newfound freedom from centuries of oppressive slavery. Today, Juneteenth has grown into a widely celebrated day of remembrance and recognition, officially becoming a federal holiday as of 2021.

Why we celebrate Juneteenth

In her recently published Pulitzer Prize winning book, On Juneteenth, Annette Gordon-Reed writes, “As painful as it may be, recognizing–though not dwelling on–tragedy and the role it plays in our individual lives, and in the life of a state or nation, is, I think, a sign of maturity.”

On Juneteenth, we recognize the tragedy of slavery and the tragic circumstances it has created across the United States. We celebrate the freedom of all Black Americans and their incredible influence and impact on American society and culture while also acknowledging there is much to be done to ensure equality and put an end to racism.

How we’re celebrating Juneteenth at Nisolo

As a part of our Racial Justice Plan of Action, we’ve created a team learning committee to support the education of all of our team members on matters of racial justice. We recently hosted a team-wide overview on Juneteenth where we presented the history, significance of the day, and encouragement of ways to thoughtfully observe and celebrate.

Starting in 2020, we included Juneteenth as a company holiday where we close our office and encourage team members to celebrate the day as they see fit for their individual journey towards racial justice. This might look like gathering with family and friends, volunteering in the local community, and/or taking some time to reflect on the past, current events, and what we can be doing to fight for racial justice today. What’s most important on this day is to celebrate the freedom of all Black Americans, and take joy in all of the ways Black people have impacted American society for the better.

Here are a few ways you may want to celebrate

  • Create space on Juneteenth to be with your family. Share about, and reflect upon the significance of this important holiday with them.
  • Learn more about the history of Juneteenth by reading Annette Gordon-Reed’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, On Juneteenth.
  • Support Black-owned businesses.
  • Reflect on the status or racial justice in our country today and ways you can participate in a more socially just society.
  • Seek out volunteering opportunities in your local community with organizations that serve the Black community.

Thanks for reading, and we hope that you find time to use Juneteenth as a way to become closer connected or involved in your own community and racial justice journey.

Sources

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