It has been one year since President Biden signed a bill declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth honors the day in 1865 when Union soldiers delivered the news of freedom to Black people who were enslaved in Galveston, Texas. This came shortly after the confederate army’s surrender and almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had already freed slaves in the south.
While this declaration means that the United States government recognizes Juneteenth as a national holiday, it does not necessarily mean that each state has followed suit. A handful of states have yet to make it a paid holiday for federal employees. This reluctance is representative of a much larger lingering issue, a refusal to acknowledge what was and still is an incredibly painful time in our nation’s history. Obviously, we have a long way to go and there is still a lot of work to be done throughout our divided country.
Celebrating Juneteenth is a good start. Businesses across the country are taking it upon themselves to do the right thing and making Juneteenth a paid company holiday regardless of what their state legislation does or does not dictate. Here in SF, Twitter and Square are two big-name tech companies that are leading the way, giving their employees a paid day off on the 19th.
The public relations world is working to do its part as well. The New York chapter of PRSA held its second annual DEI Summit earlier this week. The theme was Driving DEI Forward in PR Campaigns, Workplaces, and Beyond. The event included speakers from Ketchum, PAN Communications, Sony Music Group and more. Participants had an opportunity to participate in a workshop that focused on How to Unlearn Unconscious Bias and heard from a panel on How PR Can Lead the Way for Social Impact. Closer to home, our friends at Highwire PR hosted an event a couple of weeks ago with PRSA Silicon Valley, focusing on building black wealth and furthering the conversation around a more equitable and inclusive workplace environment.
This year marks the third year in a row that BOCA has closed its doors in observance of this important holiday. BOCA stands united with our Black friends and colleagues and we join the rest of the nation in celebrating freedom today and everyday. Happy Juneteenth!
#blacklivesmatter #celebratefreedom #juneteenth