This Saturday, June 19th—otherwise known as “Juneteenth”—marks an auspicious day dedicated to African American history and the official end of slavery in the US. Symbolically, it commemorates the date of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Major General Gordon Granger in 1865, announcing the defeat of the Confederacy. Practically, Juneteenth offers people around the country a chance to acknowledge and appreciate the critical victories and milestones that have paved the way for increased equity and freedom for all. Because the struggle for racial inclusion continues to this day, Juneteenth is also an important day for citizens and businesses everywhere to reflect on what it means to live in a diverse and multicultural America.
A growing number of US companies, from Uber to Spotify to The New York Times to Nike, and now ZeroNorth, are giving their employees the day off today (June 18) to observe this important historical milestone and the ongoing need for racial justice. Forty-seven states in the US already mark Juneteenth as a paid holiday for government workers. And, this week, the federal government voted to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day. As a day of celebration, education and connection, many organizations agree that recognizing Juneteenth is the right thing to do.
Giving employees a day off is a great start, but there’s plenty more to do. Companies can celebrate by supporting community organizations focused on racial and social justice; hold organization-wide events to promote discussion on race and inclusion and provide resources for workers looking to learn more about these issues. On that note, resources are helpful! There are plenty of books, podcasts, audiobooks, movies and documentaries out there to promote awareness and understanding around Juneteenth. Sharing related posts on social media is another excellent way to demonstrate support while also connecting with other like-minded professionals.
Here at ZeroNorth, we are always looking for ways to celebrate and improve diversity and inclusion. Our company is made up of team members from many walks of life, differences we believe make us collectively stronger and more innovative. Along with an increasing number of organizations around the country, we are proud to celebrate Juneteenth as a company holiday. Feel free to check out our mission and values or contact us for more information.