While it is widely believed that the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed Black slaves, it actually had no legal authority in Confederate states. True freedom for all slaves in the United States did not come until June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced the freedom of the almost 300,000 slaves in the state. This day became known as “Juneteenth” by the newly freed people in Texas.
Juneteenth marks the independence day of African Americans in the United States. While it has been long celebrated in the Black community, only recently more Americans learned of the importance of the day. Many Black people in the United States view Juneteenth as their Fourth of July, and companies may see many of their Black employees taking the day off to celebrate in local events or to honor the day with their families. Juneteenth celebrations for the community can include cookouts, drinking red drinks that honor the loss of life throughout slavery, and shopping only at Black-owned businesses. Increasingly, especially after the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, companies are giving all employees Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
For a historical overview of Juneteenth, check out this PBS article on Juneteenth and this report from the National Museum of African American History & Culture. To see how the holiday has been celebrated over the last 150 years, read this article from The New York Times.
Below are ways members of Diversity Best Practices are celebrating Juneteenth this year and show how companies can highlight the importance of this day.
To observe this occasion, AbbVie has a stellar line up of events planned for the week leading to Juneteenth 2021. We’re encouraging our employees to get ready to learn something new, be inspired and have some fun! Events include: * A virtual conversation and panel discussion * Signature Juneteenth Celebration, featuring a fireside chat with Rae Livingston, Chief Equity Officer & a special external guest * Family Celebration featuring live streamed poetry, song, dance and so much more.
June 16: Keynote speaker — Sam Collins Samuel “Sam” Collins III has provided financial services in the Galveston County community for over 20 years. In April 2012, he decided to open SLC Investment Services to better serve his clients. Sam serves on several boards including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Bryan Museum Delegado, Rosenberg Library Trustee and the Ruby Bridges Foundation (National Board). Sam will discuss Juneteenth and take us through the history and importance of observing the day. When he is not with his family, he is supporting his local church and/or the youth in the Galveston County area.
Allstate now recognizes Juneteenth as a company holiday and provides the day off for associates to enjoy with friends and family. Corporate communications are typically sent which provide Juneteenth related resources/activities as well.
Juneteenth Jubilee: Our Black professional network will host a companywide Juneteenth Jubilee featuring federal holiday advocate “Ms. Opal” as a keynote speaker to talk about her journey. The Jubilee is open to team members across American and neighboring affinity groups in the DFW area will also include representatives from Cowboys of Color Cultural Museum, opportunities to learn more about the CROWN Act, hear talented musicians, poetry and spoken word.
The Baxter Black Alliance and the Baxter Equality Network Business Resource Groups are teaming up to sponsor the 2021 Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, which will take place virtually June 19-20. The Race Against Hate honors the legacy of Ricky Byrdsong, a former Northwestern University basketball coach who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1999. Baxter will treat employees’ registration fees as donations so they may increase their impact 200% through the Baxter International Foundation’s Matching Gift Program.
Our African American/Black ERG will be honoring Juneteenth with an internal event on Friday, June 18.
For Juneteenth, we will educate employees on the meaning of Juneteenth through engaging internal events.
We will have a number of internal events and social activities honoring Juneteenth. As a company our US employees will be given PTO to commemorate Juneteenth on June 21st.
In addition to celebrating Juneteenth, Fifth Third Bank this week is also marking the one-year anniversary of the creation of its Executive Diversity Leadership Council and the work it has done to accelerate equality, equity and inclusion. Although the Bank’s initial strategic focus has been on making a difference for Black employees, customers and communities, the initiative is part of the Bank’s ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity, which focuses on creating equitable outcomes for all.
“The work we are doing regarding racial equality is establishing a framework that will play a critical role in the future of our organization,” said Kala Gibson, chief enterprise corporate social responsibility officer, head of business banking and executive co-sponsor of the EDLC.
The anniversary of the creation of the EDLC provides an opportunity to reflect on what Bank executives have accomplished over the past year through its three-year AREEI strategy. That features a $2.8 billion commitment toward four strategic pillars whose impact on customers and communities can be tracked and measured. Those are strategic investments, access to capital, financial inclusion and education, and social justice and advocacy.
“We are taking intentional steps and actions to address racial inequality and inequity in our corporation and in the communities that we serve,” said Stephanie Smith, senior vice president, chief inclusion and diversity officer, and executive co-sponsor of the EDLC.
The commitment to the four AREEI pillars is being carried out in three workstreams.
The customer workstream is focused on making the Bank the first choice for Black consumers. Over the last year, Bank executives collaborated with an outside research group that supports minority communities to learn what Black consumers think of the financial services industry and of Fifth Third specifically. The goal was to understand Black customers’ financial needs better to develop better tools to help build personal and generational wealth.
The Bank’s Wealth & Asset Management team has continued to refine its Transfer to Transformation strategy in the Cincinnati market. The strategy focuses on high- and ultrahigh-net-worth African American clients. The initiative helps people create, augment and preserve wealth for future generations.
The mortgage team is working to meet the lending needs of its customers by continuing to collaborate with real estate agents, community and faith-based organizations to expand its outreach and connect in meaningful ways.
The community workstream is focused on closing the wealth gap and improving economic mobility for Black communities through investments and lending of $700 million over three years. One of these investments – a $5.5 million investment in First Independence Bank, a minority depository institution in Detroit – makes Fifth Third the largest investor in that community development financial institution.
The community workstream also has worked to deepen its relationship with national organizations such as the National Urban League by developing impactful programs. In May, the Bank hosted its inaugural leadership conference for minority students, particularly those attending historically Black colleges and universities. This event featured Fifth Third senior Black leaders sharing their career journeys and advice.
The employee workstream is working with a provider that is helping to review the employee life cycle. Last summer, the Bank hosted listening sessions that started with the Bank’s regional and Enterprise African American business resource groups and then expanded the sessions to all eight of the Bank’s affinity groups.
The EDLC anniversary also allows the Bank to measure its progress against six bold inclusion and diversity goals that are to be achieved by 2025. As part of those goals, which support inclusion and diversity in the Bank’s workforce and among its diverse suppliers:
As the Bank recognizes its racial equity work, its leaders are committed to ensuring inclusion and diversity efforts continue to be an organizational priority. This year, the Bank’s African American business resource group members and allies are honoring Juneteenth in a variety of ways including but not limited to:
To learn more about Fifth Third’s racial equity efforts, please visit www.53.com/racialequity.
Juneteenth Pride Social Event- sharing what it means to be part of your community and how you celebrate, whether African American, LGBT+, both or an ally, this event will allow the two communities to come together and explore the similarities / differences in being part of these affinity groups.
We are doing an educational piece on the history of Juneteenth and the slave trade on June 15th from 12pm-1pm EST. A Professor of History at SUNY Binghamton (State University of New York) will be the guest speaker.
We are holding a national webcast on June 14th with special guest speaker Opal Lee!
During the June 18th LEAD ( League of Employees of African Descent) Community Conversation forum, the LEAD EBRG will encourage employees to engage and learn as we celebrate Juneteenth.
Neustar proudly added Juneteenth as a company holiday in 2021. In celebration, the NeuBUILD (Blacks United for Inclusion, Leadership, and Development) ERG will provide resources to employees outlining the history and significance of this holiday.
Ulta Beauty plans to celebrate Juneteenth by using the moment as an educational platform, internally and externally. An overview of this Emancipation Day will be shared with associates internally, as well as incorporated into a leadership message. Externally, Ulta Beauty will celebrate and educate around the day through social media platforms.
Juneteenth Event: Celebrating & Learning The History of Juneteenth Moderated by CBS This Morning Saturday Co-Host Michelle Miller Speakers Include: Erica Armstrong Dunbar, National Director of The Association of Black Women Historians & Professor at Rutgers University Rodney Hawkins, CBS News Producer.
For Juneteenth we have a few things planned for that week. AAL will be celebrating the freedom of African Americans by providing information on the history of Juneteenth and its importance. We will also be honoring the rich history behind the founding of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Black fraternities and sororities, culminating with a fireside chat to hear from individuals in those groups.