In June 2021, President Biden officially signed into law that Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal holiday. Most federal employers recognize this holiday, and their employees have this day off. More and more companies — including Brunner — are adding this day to their list of paid holidays, and for good reason. Read on for a brief history of Juneteenth and find out how you can observe this year and in years to come.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth (shortened form of “June Nineteenth”) — also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day — is observed annually on June 19. This day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
Although history books call out the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln in 1863 as the moment in which slavery ended in the Confederacy, it should come as no surprise that there’s more to this story. The proclamation did not apply to slave-holding border states or rebel areas under Union control. This is where Juneteenth and the state of Texas come in.
Juneteenth marks the date, June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and to ensure all enslaved people were freed. Over two years had passed since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was intended to free more than three million slaves living in Confederate states. Unfortunately, the news had not reached slaves in all that time until the arrival of Union troops. The common misconception with Juneteenth is that it recognizes the day that slaves were freed, when it actually marks the day the slaves were told they were free. In December 1865, slavery was formally abolished across the entire country with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
The following year, Juneteenth celebrations started to take place in Texas. This day is described as one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts post-Civil War. And within a few years, these celebrations would permeate other states, thus making it an annual tradition. Juneteenth officially became recognized as a holiday in Texas in 1980, and more states followed suit.
Today, Juneteenth celebrations include prayer or religious services, gatherings with family and friends, festivals, and much more. In modern times, this holiday recognizes Black power, suffering, and resilience through various activities intended to highlight joy, creativity, and community.
How can you celebrate Juneteenth?
Here are some ways you can observe the Juneteenth holiday:
- Visit a Black history museum:
- There are more than 100 Black history museums in the U.S. If a museum isn’t nearby, use the free app by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., to tour the museum virtually.
- Educate yourself:
- Reserve some time on Juneteenth to study up and go beyond what American history books tend to highlight. Check out this Juneteenth reading list, curated by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
- Shop with purpose:
- Treat yourself while making an impact. Find local Black-owned small businesses and fill your Juneteenth with shopping and dining. Check out these spots in Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
- Every penny counts. Find a charity or non-profit that is centered around Juneteenth and/or the Black community. Some starting points are The Juneteenth Foundation, NAACP, NBCDI, or ACLU.
- Get artsy:
- It seems simple but doing arts and crafts with children and family/friends is an impactful, hands-on experience that can also serve as an educational opportunity and a celebration. The world is your oyster, here!
How & Why Brunner Celebrates
At Brunner, we recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday; and all employees receive this day off. We encourage everyone to utilize this day to reflect, educate, and celebrate.
This approach goes beyond a time-off benefit for our employees. The core of our agency values are Heart, Collaboration, and Attitude. Giving our employees the opportunity to observe Juneteenth and connect with our local communities through celebrations, education, and support is a testament to upholding our values not only in our work but also in how we treat and respect others.
We like everyone, so we are an equal opportunity employer. We do not consider your race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or veteran status when deciding to hire you. We just want you to be you.