Juneteenth 2020—What is different this year?

Juneteenth 2020—What is different this year?

Juneteenth 2020—What is different this year?

What is Juneteenth? What are companies doing this year? How can you celebrate this year?

What is Juneteenth? What are companies doing this year? How can you celebrate this year?

Text: Hailee Milton

Juneteenth is the holiday that recognizes the long-overdue end to slavery in the United States of America. It specifically commemorates June 19, 1865: the day a Union Army Major rode into Galveston, Texas, and told the slaves of their emancipation:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free...” Gordon Granger read. 

At the time Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger had just assumed his position at the Department of Texas and the Confederate capital in Richmond had fallen. The "Executive" Granger referred to in his public address, President Lincoln, was dead and the 13th Amendment towards abolishing slavery would be passed later that year. With the news delayed to the enslaved people of Texas, hundreds of thousands weren't aware of their freedom until 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which was in 1963. As a result, Texas became the first state to celebrate Juneteenth and made it a state holiday in 1980. 

155 years later, our nation is still struggling with systematic racism, injustice, and police brutality. Further sparked on May 25th by the public murder of George Floyd, who died at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers. Mr. Floyd, a resident of Texas, was laid to rest in his city of Houston on June 9th.  In order to seek justice, Black Lives Matter protestors have marched in streets of Texas and around the world, saying George Floyd's name along with other Black people that have been wrongfully killed years prior.

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Despite people vehemently protesting police brutality, the failed system has continued to take more lives since May 25th including: Rashard Brooks, Oluwatoyin Salau, Na'Kia Crawford, and more. 

Typically, Juneteenth is celebrated by a picnic or cookout, with family and friends. Juneteenth incorporates traditions, storytelling, great food, music, religious services—it is a celebration of Black Culture. But this year it holds a different meaning. President Trump announced that he would host a June 19th campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—one of the deadliest site of racial violence in America—where a white mob attacked black residents and burnt down the black-owned businesses otherwise known as "Black Wall Street" in 1921.

Trump's silence on the issues of systematic racism and disregard for the public outcry for justice reform shows complacency. Now, his decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth is in all honesty, a slap in the face. It's unfortunate that some companies are just learning about the history behind Juneteenth and waking up to injustices the Black community has faced for years.

However, this year the push to make Juneteenth a national holiday is being heard by many for the first time. Companies such as Nike, Target, and Google have decided to give their employees time off in respect for the holiday, a permanent company holiday moving forward.

As many of these businesses continue to learn how to support black employees, they also want their non-Black employees to celebrate, educate, advocate, and connect. V wants to encourage you to continue to speak up and use your voice. Find out how you can do so, below

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