2020 is an important moment in our nation’s history. As individual citizens, non-profit organizations, small businesses and corporations all come together to celebrate and fight for the equality of the Black community, it’s vital to become educated on our nation’s past and present. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
Across the country, members of the Black community have been celebrating June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, since 1865. But on the flipside of this historic holiday are the millions of Americans who don’t understand its history or significance. So, what is Juneteenth and why should it be celebrated?
To put it simply, Juneteenth is the day the final slaves were freed in the United States—two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official. Due to poor communication and a potentially intentional withholding of information, many slaves in Southern states were not made aware of their freedom until Major General Gordon Granger brought the news in 1865.
So, how is Juneteenth celebrated today? Although it has not yet been declared a national holiday, Juneteenth is widely celebrated with events, outdoor cookouts, traditional foods and observance of the holiday’s history. With COVID-19 restrictions in place this year, these celebrations may look different than in years past, but that does not diminish their importance. In fact, with the nation’s current momentum behind supporting the Black community, this year’s celebration may be one of the most important ones yet.
With social distancing restrictions still in place in many areas, attending a Juneteenth event this year may be challenging. However, there are still many ways to celebrate safely. Ideas include attending a socially distanced event within your community, displaying a yard sign to raise awareness of the holiday, cooking a traditional African American meal, or even reading a book about the holiday to broaden your understanding of its history and significance.
At Franklin Energy, many of our own ancestors were denied their human freedoms as slaves. Regardless of our individual culture or heritage, we are all proud to stand beside the Black community and support their equality and freedom. Juneteenth is a day to learn from history, examine the present, and make a commitment to fight for a brighter future. If you want to learn more about the history of Juneteenth, celebration ideas, ways to provide support and more, visit www.juneteenth.com.
Director of Diverse Sourcing and Inclusion
With an impressive resume and proven track record of success and dedication, Mark Sebree has a reputation for changing paradigms in the Business Inclusion arena. He is responsible for engaging with utility clients to identify and develop supplier diversity strategies, leading outreach efforts to various organizations, and collaborating across teams and departments to promote diversity within the supply chain and talent acquisition. Mark has served on over 15 business inclusion and utility industry boards and associations, and he holds various certifications including a green belt certification in Six Sigma and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville.