Juneteenth: An Observance of Freedom



On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas over 250,000 slaves received the news from General Gordon Granger that the Civil War ended and that they were finally free from slavery. Many slaves did not know the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years prior. Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, has been celebrated for over 150 years as a day to commemorate emancipation in the United States.



“All of these freedoms were not afforded to us at one time in history, so I think this holiday is a time to honor the legacy of sacrifice that our ancestors made in order for us to be free.” – John Graham, VP Employer Brand, Diversity & Culture.

For recruiters, it is essential to acknowledge the entirety of the individual they are interviewing, the depth and range of the candidate’s experiences. As for employers, it is critical to open the aperture and truly seek to understand why an individual would want to join your organization. Is it for the pay and benefits; or is it your stance on diversity, equity, and inclusion as an integral part of your overall business strategy—not just as a marketing tactic? More importantly, do you include Juneteenth as part of your company holiday schedule?

Recently, in 2021, Juneteenth was signed into law as the nation’s 12th federal holiday. The last time the US declared a federal holiday was in 1983 for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Commemorating these important days is to honor our ancestors, as well as celebrating progress and the very attributes of what ‘freedom for all’ means.

As some of you are only beginning to learn about this important moment in history, remember Juneteenth is a holiday that many families have celebrated for years. My hope is you will join me and my family by celebrating with us this year and for years to come.