A Celebration of Freedom.

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the formal end of slavery across the United States. Today is a day long-celebrated by African American communities and citizens across the nation known as Juneteenth.

Maybe you’re already familiar with Juneteenth. Maybe you’re not. Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth is widely considered to be African-Americans’ independence day. It’s a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia. But it’s still not a federally recognized national holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the reading of federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were now free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier, Texas was the most remote Confederate slave state with a low presence of Union troops. Enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.

In the wake of nationwide protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd three weeks ago, the date has taken on added meaning. Groups have also called for the day to be recognized as a federal holiday, with New York and Virginia proposing to make it a paid day off for state employees.

This year as businesses examine their policies and social responsibility to combat systemic racism, Juneteenth is looking a bit different. A number of companies have made today a paid holiday. Video game maker Electronic Arts is giving employees a paid day off to volunteer in their community. A host of other companies like Twitter, Square and Vox Media all made announcements declaring Juneteenth a company holiday. And Grey has made a similar announcement…

We encourage everyone to use this day away from the office as a moment of reflection and activation. For many, if not everyone, there is still much to learn about racism in America. You can use this time for education. There are also conversations that should happen with families and among friends so we don’t repeat mistakes from the past. There is also much to do to set forth on a better course that will truly benefit all Americans. You can use this time to plan, to promise, and to begin your journey.

Honoring June 19th in this way may seem like a small step. Perhaps. But, a small
step demonstrates momentum and direction. We need both, right now and for
years to come.

Spend a few minutes today exploring the National Museum of African American History’s online collection.

In Cincinnati, there will be free Juneteenth concerts on local tv and social media June 19, 20, and 21, with a special Father’s Day event on Sunday. You can get more details about Juneteenth events at juneteenthcincinnati.org.

What is Juneteenth and how are people commemorating it this year? via Reuters.

And read Why Juneteenth is a celebration of hope at NatGeo.

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