Tomorrow, we will pause our workweek to remember the importance of the Juneteenth federal holiday.  As we approach its fourth year as a federal holiday, we should take the time to reflect on our nation’s journey towards freedom, justice, and equality. 

Although slavery legally ended in 1863 with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, the enforcement of this change depended on Union Troops. It wasn’t until they reached Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, that the last slaves were finally freed. This day was then coined Juneteenth and celebrated annually in Texas and around the country in black communities as a day of freedom. 

Juneteenth and other significant milestones represent the enduring legacy of freedom, justice, and equality that the United States has consistently striven toward. James Baldwin, a literary luminary and significant figure in the landscape of black art and history once said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Although we have further to go and have faced many challenges in the pursuit of progress, the United States has always been marked by our ambition to work toward continual improvement and freedom for all.

As you’re enjoying your Juneteenth holiday, take part in the many celebrations occurring nationally and in your own communities. Please take the time to reflect on the significance of this holiday and the freedoms of all Americans that we must continually strive to uplift.