Why Juneteenth is Worth Celebrating
Most of us are familiar with when the Declaration of Independence was signed or when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but June 19, 1865, is a date that probably doesn't ring a bell to many Americans.
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, it took two and a half years for the news to spread to the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and declared that the more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state were free. This day became known as Juneteenth.
Throughout the years, Juneteenth traditions evolved, but today's common festivities include music, barbecues, parades and other celebrations of Black culture. When asked how they imagine their community commemorating the day, Ana and Chynna's answer is twofold.
"It's an opportunity for us to show solidarity and support for the Black community. At a celebration in St. Louis last year, there were pop-up Black-owned shops, and I thought that was so cool," says Ana.
"But also, it's a time for fun! Everyone knows what they're going to do on the Fourth of July--grill out, have a pool party, get together with friends. It would be great if we all talked about how we're going to celebrate Juneteenth too," says Chynna.
No matter what the celebrations look like, Ana and Chynna hope everyone can understand why it's important to recognize Juneteenth.
"It's such an important day in history," says Ana. "The fact that we don't talk about it, or really even know about it, is devastating. We weren't unified until that day, so it deserves a huge celebration."
After Ana and Chynna presented their proposal, our senior management team didn't need much time to reach a decision. As an institution built on the philosophy of People Helping People, we knew making Juneteenth a company holiday reflected the core credit union principles of acceptance and inclusion.
Beginning this year, we will be closed on June 19 to provide employees, members and the community an opportunity to observe the holiday. We hope everyone can spend the day learning about Juneteenth, participating in celebrations, supporting the Black community and truly embracing just how historic and unifying this day is for all Americans.