In the past couple weeks, many companies have taken a stand against racial injustice by issuing statements of support for the black community.
Beyond those statements of support, however, it’s important for organizations to follow through with actions that have tangible affects. Some companies have done just that by donating to causes that aim to create more racial equality.
Another extension of that is by creating more awareness and celebrating events that are important to black culture in the United States. This is why several companies have recently made the decision to recognize Juneteenth (June 19) as a paid holiday this year and every year after.
After the end of the Civil War in April 1865 and two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a number of people remained enslaved in the U.S. It was on June 19, 1865 when Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read the statement, “In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” which finally meant freedom for those still enslaved in Texas. Thus, Juneteenth marks the effective and official end of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth — also called Emancipation Day — is celebrated in communities across the country in the same spirit as the Fourth of July but has often been overlooked outside the black community.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and payments startup Square, was at the forefront of this, as he announced that Juneteenth will now be a designated holiday for U.S. employees at both companies.
WorldatWork president and CEO Scott Cawood informed his employees on Friday that the organization would also be recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday this year and every year.
“I invite you all to take this day to reflect on our discussions around race and equity, building a diverse and inclusive community and commemorating a part of our history that we are still struggling to overcome,” Cawood wrote to staff.
Other Companies Honoring Juneteenth as a Paid Holiday
- Nike: CEO John Donahoe announced that the athletic brand would recognize the day as a paid holiday in an internal memo. “When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand,” Donahoe wrote in the memo.
- Vox Media: CEO Jim Bankoff sent a memo to his staff informing them that the media company would observe Juneteenth this year, but it’s unclear if it will recognize the holiday in future years.
- NFL: The National Football League announced it would make Juneteenth a paid holiday this year and league offices will be closed.
- The New York Times: The newspaper announced on Friday that it would formally observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday this year.
- Postmates: CEO and founder Bastian Lehman announced the food delivery company would also observe Juneteenth as a holiday permanently. "Not just in response to the moment—but to allow all of us time to reflect on the Black American experience (from 1619 to today) & the actions required to move forward together," he wrote in a tweet.
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.