AMS: Recognizing a New Federal Holiday

June 6, 2022

On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became the twelfth federal legal holiday. A number of states also recognize it as a state legal holiday, and most states honor it as a day of observance. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on June 15, 2021 to give Juneteenth the legal holiday status.

NPR informs us of the 2022 details: “Although the official date of the holiday is June 19, the date on which it is observed can vary if it falls on a weekend. That is the case this year. June 19, 2022 falls on a Sunday, so for pay and leave purposes, federal employees will get the holiday on Monday, June 20 according to the Office of Personnel Management.

“Juneteenth is now formally recognized as a federal holiday. In 2022 Juneteenth will be observed on Monday, June 20, however the actual day of Juneteenth is June 19th which falls on a Sunday. Banks will be closed on Juneteenth, however banks should be open on the following Tuesday, June 21.”

What does it mean for a business such as AMS, and why does this date have importance for all of us? Juneteenth is a big step forward in bringing recognition, equity and due respect to the descendants of African men and women who suffered and endured enslavement in the US. The journey from enslavement to equity has been a long and painful one for Black Americans… through Jim Crow and segregation to racism and racial discrimination. Today’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is meant to finally bring an end to inequality in the workplace. As a B Corporation, AMS is pleased to bring attention to this new holiday celebrating the actual end of slavery.

Juneteenth, which is short for June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when federal troops sailed into Galveston, Texas to inform the state’s enslaved Africans that they were free. The not-so-glorious thing about that date is that it was a full two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Juneteenth honors the end of slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.

From history.com we read the following: “Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Contrary to what we might have presumed, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states. In Texas, slavery had continued. In fact, many enslavers from outside of Texas had moved there, as they viewed it as a safe haven for slavery. The arrival of federal troops in Galveston that June signaled freedom for 250,000 enslaved men, women and children.

Although emancipation didn’t happen overnight for everyone (in some cases, enslavers withheld the information until after harvest season) celebrations broke out among newly freed people, and Juneteenth was born. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.

In our recent Memorial Day blog, we spoke about how our society has been able to change and grow in recognition of our shared humanity:

“As a B Corporation we proudly speak of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. We also are proud to consider our employees, our clients, our communities and our natural world stakeholders in the decisions we make. And we recognize that it is due to the freedoms we have, that our society has been able to change from the exploitations of the past and grow into a country that celebrates all human beings.”

As we celebrate Juneteenth we also recognize that there is a ‘way to go’ in bringing equity to all, and at AMS we are committed to the journey and happy to be so!

Photo credit: Heather Mount