Happy Juneteenth! That’s become a familiar greeting for June 19 each year, but do you know the story behind the salutation?
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) recognizes June 19, 1865, as the day that news of slavery’s end reached slaves in Galveston, Texas when federal troops arrived one month after the Civil War ended and two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Since then, African American communities across the U.S. have celebrated the day. The first celebrations were small, church-based events, and they’ve continuously grown over the years. Cookouts and music are often at the center of Juneteenth celebrations, along with readings from the emancipation proclamation and other celebratory events.
In June 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday. Washington, DC and 47 other states then followed. In June 2021, Congress voted in favor of designating Juneteenth National Independence Day as a federal holiday, making it the first new federal holiday introduced since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
Until recently, the history and impact of Juneteenth has not been widely taught in schools, discussed in corporate boardrooms, or even acknowledged in some circles, but its cultural significance will now be commemorated for generations to come.
Here at RSM, we understand the importance of Juneteenth and we encourage our people to celebrate this milestone in our nation’s history in ways that are meaningful to them. Some of the ways we’re recognizing this historically significant day include hosting virtual tours of historic sites, supporting black-owned businesses, and hosting gatherings in our local offices.
Regardless of how you celebrate this special day, on behalf of our African American and Canadian Excellence (AACE) employee network group (ENG), along with the rest of our 13,000+ people nationwide and in Canada, I’d like to wish you and yours a Happy Juneteenth!
Aureon Herron-Hinds, principal, Washington National Tax and National African American and Canadian Excellence Employee Network Group Leader
RSM is committed to inclusion, and we value perspectives, journeys, milestones and progress that enrich us all.