Juneteenth, a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” has garnered attention in recent years as people pushed for a day to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
Diversity and inclusion thought leader Stephen Frost believes that recognizing Juneteenth is just a small step towards true “inclusion” in America
He said news week: “Following the killing of George Floyd, a number of companies released statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and posted black squares on their social media accounts. But for many, that was the end of activism.
“For example, Nike and Adidas retweeted each other’s anti-racism messages, but at the time Adidas’ six-member board consisted of five white men and one white woman.
“Nike’s board of ten consisted of seven white men and three white women. Adidas now had a board of five white men and one black woman, and Nike’s board has expanded and become more diverse, although still predominantly white male.
“Will we see similar actions from organizations this June 16th? Organizations tend to adopt one of four approaches to diversity and inclusion.
“Diversity 2.0 is the reputation or marketing-centric approach where organizations begin to take a stand in a visible way. Old Navy’s Juneteenth 2021 campaign has been criticized for underpaying influencers and trying to capitalize on Juneteenth in general.
“It’s important that organizations move beyond Diversity 2.0 and marketing-driven inauthentic approaches to Inclusion 3.0, where inclusion is truly embedded in an organization, or even better, Inclusion 4.0, which is a systems shift.”
When is June 16th?
As the name suggests, June 19 commemorates the date of June 19, which occurred in 1865. That day, Union Army Major General Gordon Granger rode to Galveston, Texas, and informed the slaves of their emancipation.
June 19, 1865 came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
And despite Lincoln’s declaration that all enslaved people were free on paper, the horrific reality was that this was often not true.
June 16 is now also known as Emancipation Day and people across the US celebrate this moment with food and celebrations similar to July 4th.
Is June 16th a public holiday?
Juneteenth has evolved and grown over the decades since it was first celebrated with local festivals and commemorations.
President Joe Biden signed legislation into law in 2021 to officially declare June 16 as an American federal holiday.
Since June 19, 2022 falls on a Sunday, federal employees have Monday, June 20, free.
Federal holidays such as June 16 are typically for government employees, including those who work for the U.S. Postal Service, law enforcement, public health, and clerical workers at various government agencies may take or substitute that particular day off.
As a result, federal holidays may result in non-essential federal agencies being closed and banks, post offices, and schools almost certainly not being open on June 20, 2022.
However, federal holidays are not mandatory for businesses in the US, but many businesses are likely to comply with June 16, 2022.
David A. Bateman, associate professor of government at Cornell University, believes June 16 should have been officially marked a long time ago.
He said news week: “[T]His country has spent more than a century and a half either abolishing slavery or pretending it wasn’t such a big deal, and when it acknowledged something, it did so from the perspective of white supremacist Jim Crow regimes or self-adulation Grand Army of the Republic.
“June 16, as a federal holiday that invites the historical perspectives and memories of Black communities, is long overdue as a concrete act of equal recognition, with all the meaning and limitations that equal recognition and not substantive equality implies.”