What Juneteenth Means

What Juneteenth Means

What Juneteenth Means
George Nichols III
Jun 18, 2021

The history of Juneteenth goes back to the emancipation of African-Americans enslaved in the United States. From its origin in Galveston, commemorated on the anniversary of Union Army general Gordon Granger proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas, the holiday has received increasing state by state recognition until June 17, 2021, when it was proclaimed a national holiday and signed into federal law.

Instead of turning this note into a history lesson (here’s a great recitation), let me talk briefly about what the day signifies for us as The American College of Financial Services, and for our nation, moving forward.

First, it is a day to remember. As we frame our work through the Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality, we always reflect on the days of slavery and freedom from that enslavement, but also on the fleeting change in the time since.

Second, it is a day to re-engage. Take some time to listen to public figures and community leaders “…celebrate, educate, and agitate,” in the words of historian Mitch Kachun. Find a personal or professional thread that you can latch onto to help create lasting change in Black communities.

Third, it is a day to re-affirm. The College, through Four Steps Forward, must re-affirm our commitment to the cause. While many have called Juneteenth “America’s second Independence Day,” that independence has not yet equaled justice, opportunity, and equity. That must change, and our work, with partnerships across the financial services industry, will push us closer to those goals.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” So, we remember, re-engage, re-affirm, and move forward not with the belief that true equality is preordained, but that it comes through continuous struggle.