Maya Angelou once said, “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
What is Juneteenth? Some may feel like it’s just another day off from work. Others embrace the holiday’s significance and participate in festivals, pageants, and service events to empower the African American community. Some are still trying to figure out how to appropriately celebrate this holiday when all we’ve had for the longest was July 4th, America’s “Independence Day.” On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, informing enslaved people that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. Since this announcement, African Americans have maneuvered through systemic racism, making significant strides and profoundly impacting this country’s development.
Juneteenth was declared a state holiday in the state of Texas in 1980 and was declared a federal holiday in 2021. This year’s Juneteenth holiday marks the 157th commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. The US still has much work to do the right the wrongs of the past. Companies need to do more than make performative activism and invest in the African American community on a year-round basis and not just on MLK Day, during Black History Month, and now on Juneteenth. We need more than black boxes on Instagram and shirts that say, Black Lives Matter, we need real action.
Juneteenth is a holiday for African Americans to celebrate the true meaning of freedom and independence for all. Juneteenth is a time to celebrate tradition, heritage, and culture.