Many people ask what Juneteenth is really about. For me, in my younger years, it was about eating great food, dancing and playing all day with friends and family. I recall spending Juneteenth at Weber Point in the local park listening to my aunt’s music set and dancing in the grass just below the stage. I loved it. I had no idea what we were really celebrating until much later in life.
In short, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed all enslaved U.S. people in 1863, it was not until 1865 on June 19 that those in the more remote parts of Texas gained their freedom. This is why Juneteenth, Freedom Day, is a blend of the words “June” and “nineteenth” as it signifies the month and day the last enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, were freed. Throughout the U.S., many gather annually with their communities to celebrate and remember this historic day of freedom.
Last year, in a rare, almost unanimous decision, Congress aligned to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 17, 2021. Now in our second year celebrating the new federal holiday, we must take a moment to remember how far we have come, while also understanding that there is still important work to do in this space. The days of slavery in the U.S. are behind us, but the fight for social, economic and employment equality is still ongoing.
At Poly, we will observe Juneteenth in honor of the pain and loss of life caused by racial injustices, remembering the legacy of this day and the value of perseverance as we move forward. We will use this time to connect and learn from one another, reflecting on how we can help create change, starting with our own organization. To that end, Hue, a Poly Employee Resource Group (ERG), was created to support underrepresented minorities personally and professionally. This group promotes the growth, engagement, success and retention of our ethnic minority employees across all job functions, professional levels and locations to serve as leaders and valued contributors to our success. We know our current state of workplace diversity and representation needs to improve, and we are working toward it every day. Our goal is to take the steps necessary to not only advance diversity, inclusion and gender equity at Poly, but to be the change we want to see throughout the industry.
In our local community, Poly will be represented by our Hue ERG at the Juneteenth Festival in Stockton, California, where many people gather at Weber Point to celebrate Freedom Day. There will be wellness booths, food vendors, artists and music as well as local businesses supporting the day’s events. Poly’s presence at this festival will help engage our local community and talent. It is not always easy for people to see which businesses are making a genuine effort to support minorities, but we hope to show up and have meaningful conversations about Poly and how businesses like ours are pushing for change and are working toward more inclusivity.
I am looking forward to celebrating Juneteenth in the park just like I did when I was a young girl. Come visit our booth and join the celebration! Click here for festival details.
To learn more about Juneteenth and its history, please click here.