Juneteenth: June 19, 1865


This Friday is Juneteenth— the date that is celebrated and honored among African Americans and others as the official end of slavery in our county. In June of 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops were deployed in Texas to order the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger, in Galveston, Texas proclaimed the Civil War ended and that the people enslaved were now free. Again, Juneteenth has long been observed, celebrated and mourned in our country by African Americans and others. Celebrated as the end of slavery; observed as an important turning point; and mourned because there so much yet to be done for equality and justice.

With COVID-19, the economic crisis, and protests for social justice, this Juneteenth takes on special meaning. As I wrote and we issued earlier: “People in our nation are hurting and they are dying. People are out of work, savings are wiped out, people are lined up for blocks on foot and for miles in cars in food lines, homelessness is up, we’ve lost decades of job growth and years of productivity, and the budgets of state and local governments are strained to historic levels. And now, the senseless murder of George Floyd has propelled people across the country to take to the streets to protest our broken justice system. Now is a time for truth, honesty and action. It took centuries for us to come to this place and it will take years for us to right this course. But the heavy burden we face cannot stop us from beginning to take action in this work today.”

The NFL and Nike have declared this upcoming Juneteenth a work holiday and other companies are following. In our lifetimes, we will see this holiday declared by states and the federal government. Here is a Public Television story on current employer moves for this week— CLICK HERE .

And here is a history channel web location that might be helpful to study – CLICK HERE .

As you know from our earlier writing, HFAM is in the process of forming a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Member Task Force. Please stay tuned as we build the membership of that focused group in coming weeks. Finally, individual members have asked about making meaningful donations.  I have personally donated and have advised donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund— CLICK HERE .

History has shown us moments when there has been an overwhelming need to overcome universal, desperate, and historic challenges. This is that moment for us, for the sake of all Americans and for future generations. As Rabbi Hillel said, "What you yourself hate, don't do to your neighbor. This is the whole law.” 

In my professional work and personal life, I dedicate myself to the imperative that we all MUST do better and work step by step, day by day to right the wrongs we face. Let’s join together.
Joe DeMattos
President & CEO
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