Culture, diversity and inclusion

Juneteenth at RSM

A celebration of freedom

Diversity, equity, inclusion

Freedom Day. Jubilee Day. Liberation Day. Emancipation Day

These are all terms used to describe what has become widely known as Juneteenth – a day that recognizes those who had been enslaved in the U.S. Originating in Texas, the day is now celebrated on June 19 across the country, with increasing recognition. Why June 19? That’s the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 proclamation of freedom from slavery in Texas. While President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and other states two-and-a-half years earlier, enforcement was inconsistent before 1865.

Juneteenth celebrations date back to 1866 and have evolved over time. Today, the day is celebrated in most major U.S. cities in a variety of ways. Here at RSM, members of our African American and Canadian Excellence (AACE) employee network group are acknowledging the day in a number of ways, including participating in a virtual Juneteenth event to learn about the history behind the day while unleashing their creativity as they kick off the celebratory weekend by making flags in honor of Juneteenth. Why flags? There’s actually a Juneteenth flag in Texas, which symbolizes freedom and justice for Black and African Americans. The colors of the flag are similar to the U.S. flag because all Americans are able to understand and recognize the importance of African American history.

Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. Instead, it’s a celebration of progress – an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible. And there is still much work to do.

On behalf of our AACE employee network group and the rest of our 13,000 people across the U.S. and in Canada, I invite you to join us in recognizing this important date in American history. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate, but it’s important that you understand the significance of the day – highlighted most recently by President Biden signing a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday – and that you commit to helping others in the community who might need your support.  

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