Juneteenth has long been celebrated across the United States by Black Americans who recognize the historical date as the community’s Independence Day. But this year, in wake of heightened racial tensions and a corporate awakening of Blacks’ contributions to the national landscape, more companies are designating June 19 as a company holiday.
Last week Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that employees at both of his companies would have a day of “celebration, education, and connection” for Juneteenth. He also added, “Countries and regions around the world have their own days to celebrate emancipation, and we will do the work to make those dates company holidays everywhere we are present.”
The following day postmates followed suit, with their CEO tweeting, “Starting today @Postmates will observe Juneteenth as a permanent company holiday. Not just in response to the moment—but to allow all of us time to reflect on the Black American experience (from 1619 to today) & the actions required to move forward together.”
By Thursday, international athletic brand Nike had joined in on the trend announcing that they, too, would be observing the day that is nationally recognized by all but four states. In an internal memo CEO John Donahoe noted it as an “important opportunity to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”
Other large companies offering employees the day off include MasterCard, the NFL, Adobe, Lyft, Glossier and VSCO. Media outlets BuzzFeed and Vox Media have also pledged to observe the national holiday that has yet to be recognized on a federal level.
In a statement shared with ESSENCE, social media giant Facebook noted its own plans for recognizing the occasion also known as Cel-Liberation Day. “This Juneteenth, Facebook will commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved African-Americans with a day of learning,” Nneka Norville, Facebook Spokesperson said. “We are canceling all meetings and engaging in conversation about the history, experiences and issues that Black Americans still face. We all have a responsibility to help give voice to underrepresented communities around the world. Our goal is to learn more so that we can do more.
A source close to Facebook added that the company made this decision because it believes that “ learning is a powerful way of showing our commitment to advancing our collective understanding of racism and supporting our Black community.” They also said they hope the day will bring about a better understanding of how history plays a role in the systems of racism and the experience of the Black community, in an effort to dismantle it.
Juneteenth or June 19, is recognized as the day enslaved Americans in Texas were told they were free. More than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the executive order that had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln. In the United States, Juneteenth is celebrated as African-Americans’ Freedom Day.