Happy Juneteenth. Today, we celebrate Black Americans’ freedom and achievements. We reflect on a period in our history that has shaped and continues to influence our society today. While the fight for racial justice and equity continues, we commemorate Juneteenth to honor Black Americans who fought and continue to fight for our freedom and basic rights.
Juneteenth, formerly known as Emancipation Day, is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.1 The celebration started on June 19, 1865, two months after the official end of the Civil War in the United States, when federal troops arrived in Texas to ensure that all slaves were freed. Though news of freedom brought immediate reactions of shock and happiness, there was also a realization that there would be a lot more needed to achieve true freedom. Throughout the years after the initial celebration, Juneteenth was used as a time for praying and reassurance of justice and peace.
Juneteenth continues to be a time of reflection and reassurance. With little over a year passed since the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing rage and protests across the country demanding justice, there is so much more work that needs to be done to ensure that all Black Americans receive just, fair, and equitable treatment. The reality that there is a long road ahead can be daunting and discouraging. Reflecting on the history and meaning of Juneteenth provides all of us with the opportunity to encourage, support, and uplift all those that are fighting for true racial justice and equity.
I encourage all to take time to reflect on the meaning of Juneteenth. This day is meant to inspire strength, wellness, and perseverance in the Black community. It is a time for us all to think about how we show up and fight for systemic change and reform. These moments of joy, celebration, and showing love for those who stand with us are so important; these days of reflection are what keeps us strong.
As America’s socially responsible bank, Amalgamated will continue to strengthen and evolve its efforts in the fight for equity and racial justice. We know that there is still work to be done, especially in the financial sector. We are committed to continuing to move the sector forward with our vision of a more just, sustainable world for all.