Celebrating Junteenth & Why It's Important
155 years ago today on June 19th in Galveston, TX, Major General Gordon Granger announced that all slaves were to be set free under federal orders. In the years since, Junteenth (June + 19th) has become an annual celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S.
Juneteenth is a time to celebrate freedom. It’s a time to reflect and understand the fact that systemic racism is still rooted in all aspects of our society today.
- Black workers reportedly account for 26% of EEOC discrimination claims but only make up 13% of the workforce.
- Black Americans are more likely to be unemployed or have low-paying jobs compared to White Americans. That's in part due to education disparities. But studies show Black workers earn less than White workers even when they have the same education.
- Racial wage gap: Economic Policy Institute says that in 2017, Black men made about 70 cents for every $1 their White counterpart made. The gap is especially large when it comes to Black women, who make 62 cents for every $1 a White man makes, according to the National Women's Law Center.
There's no simple fix to reversing centuries of discrimination.
In the corporate world: Nike, Uber, Twitter, Spotify, and Target have made Juneteenth a paid holiday.
- Amazon and Google encouraged employees to cancel meetings.
- Capital One and JPMorgan will close branches early. Bank of America and Citigroup encouraged workers to use a personal day.
Paid holidays do incur costs for employers—an average of 77 cents per employee hour worked. Some companies are debating replacing Columbus Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Juneteenth.