Juneteenth Sees an Upsurge of Interest in 2020

By SHRM Online staff June 18, 2020
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Children in a Juneteenth parade in Philadelphia, 2019

​Children in a Juneteenth parade in Philadelphia, 2019

​Today is Juneteenth, the observation of the historic day of June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger led his Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, and announced the Civil War had ended and the slaves were freed.

Juneteenth is making news this year as employers look for ways to support people of color in the wake of protests of systemic racism and inequality in the U.S. Many members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have called the SHRM Knowledge Center to ask about the holiday and best practices for recognizing it with employees.

In 1865, Granger delivered General Order Number 3 stating "all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer." The news was delivered two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted.

People began celebrating June 19 as Emancipation Day across Texas and neighboring states. In 1980, Texas declared June 19 a legal state holiday.

Forty-six other states and the District of Columbia also recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance. In Houston's Emancipation Park, Juneteenth will be celebrated for the 148th year—virtually. In New Hampshire, there will be live-streamed African drumming, a concert and a soul food cooking demonstration. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to honor the day by lowering the flag "out of respect for the lives lost due to hate and racism in Illinois," WGN-TV reported.

SHRM Online has collected the following information on Juneteenth: 

Juneteenth Protests, Celebrations Planned in Major Cities

Organizers across U.S. look to commemorate the official end of slavery, as well as advance calls for policy changes aimed at combating racism and police brutality, which are planned in cities across the country. Event organizers in New York City, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Tulsa, Okla., are planning for thousands to come out for marches and celebrations.
(Wall Street Journal)  

Viewpoint: Juneteenth Is a Reminder That Freedom Wasn't Just Handed Over 

In celebration of the long overdue ending of slavery, Black Texans come together every year to remember our ancestors and the harsh treatment they endured for centuries. In a red state where white-supremacy groups still congregate and Confederate flags fly from the back of trucks, it's an indication that we are just as Texan as anyone else and our culture has influence in a place that once delayed our emancipation. 
(The New York Times

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