Celebrating Juneteenth: Recognizing the Past and Building an Inclusive Future

June 18, 2024

For the third year in a row, G2’s U.S. team will observe Juneteenth as an official company holiday. It is the U.S. team’s most recently added holiday to celebrate the longest-running African-American holiday and commemorate the freeing of the last enslaved people in the U.S. It’s also a reflection of G2’s ongoing commitment to our DEI efforts. However, for those outside of the U.S., the history of this day and how it became a holiday may be lesser known.

History of Juneteenth

At midnight on January 1, 1863—three years into the U.S. Civil War—the Emancipation Proclamation took effect and all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free by President Abraham Lincoln. Union soldiers, many of whom were Black, traveled throughout the South reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. 

However, not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. There were still places officially under Confederate control despite the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect. One of these places was the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. For enslaved people in Texas, they sadly would not be free until much later. 

Finally, on June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to announce that the 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were now free people. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth" by the newly freed people in Texas.

Since that day, Juneteenth became a sacred holiday to the African American community Although it was long-celebrated in the African American community, it was largely unknown to most Americans.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, that Juneteenth became more widely known and there was a push to establish it as an official holiday. Finally, in June 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan law declaring Juneteenth as the first new Federal holiday since the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday nearly four decades earlier. Additionally, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia now legally recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday. 

Why it Matters that Juneteenth is a Holiday

Juneteenth represents a pivotal moment in American history, the true moment of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and freedom for all. That is why Juneteenth is a time to reflect on the sacrifices and the resilience of Black people in the face of oppression, while also marking the progress made by society. The celebration of Juneteenth also reminds us the fight for equality is ongoing and we must continue working together towards a more just and equitable society.

Juneteenth is special to me because it’s a day that brings the Black community together, from all walks of life, to commemorate our shared history and celebrate our diversity. It's a day for fellowship and solidarity, as we recognize the contributions of our ancestors and acknowledge the struggles that shaped our collective journey.

The designation of Juneteenth as an official federal holiday holds monumental significance because it recognizes past injustices and a commitment to building an inclusive future. Honoring Juneteenth collectively provides a national opportunity for education, reflection, and dialogue about uncomfortable truths, and their impact on the Black community.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

Here at G2, in addition to the holiday observance of Juneteenth, the Ebony & Allies ERG will host a very special fireside chat with Katara Giles, Senior Account Partner at Salesforce and Global President of Salesforce’s Black Organization for Leadership and Development (BOLDforce). 

If you are looking for ways to celebrate Juneteenth, here are a few recommendations:

  • Local in-person celebrations: Search online and you will find many gatherings in major cities and towns across the country. 
  • Education: For history buffs, plenty of organizations and universities will host panels and talks about the history of Juneteenth’s history. More than ever before, you can also find documentaries, books, podcasts about Juneteenth and Black history. 
  • Charity and Service: Donate and/or support to organizations that support Black communities. Find organizations that resonate with your beliefs or support causes you are passionate about. 
Celebrating Juneteenth: Recognizing the Past and Building an Inclusive Future For the third year in a row, G2’s U.S. team will observe Juneteenth as an official company holiday. Ebony & Allies ERG co-lead Nick Washington shares their reflections on the meaning of Juneteenth and the significance of it being a federal holiday. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/G2CM_FI004_Culture_Blog_Images_%5BJuneteenth%5D_V2.png
Nick Washington Nick Washington is a Senior Technical Support Specialist and Ebony & Allies co-lead at G2. Nick is a Chicago native with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and a passion for pursuing innovative solutions to streamline processes. Their dedication to the Ebony & Allies ERG exemplifies their commitment to making a meaningful impact for all underrepresented employees (past, present, and future). https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Nick%20Headshot.jpg