More businesses, including OSCPA, recognize the historical impact of Juneteenth

Written on Jun 18, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

The unrest of the past few weeks in response to years of racial injustice has prompted many businesses across the country to recognize “Juneteenth” – June 19 – as a paid holiday for their employees. 

Juneteenth Freedom Day

Companies such as Nike, the NFL, Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and more are offering Juneteenth as an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on its significance as the oldest recognition of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. 

Margaret Finley 150_200 HS JRMarch 2020“I think in the coming years you'll see more companies getting on board to recognize it,” said Margaret Finley, OSCPA Diversity + Inclusion Strategist. “It's more than the right thing to do, it’s a thoughtful thing to do. To show empathy and solidarity after so many years of oppression says, ‘We're listening, and we want to further the conversation and education and awareness.’” 

Finley said her grandmother’s mother was a slave and she regularly heard stories about her great-grandmother’s experiences growing up. 

“As much as we'd like to say we’re leaving that behind and we finally have our freedom, when I look at what's going on right now, I say to myself, are we really free?” Finley said. “It's just a different type of bondage. Juneteenth celebrates no longer being slaves, but there are still many hurdles that we have not overcome.” 

Companies that are offering Juneteenth as a paid holiday show a high sense of racial empathy, Finley said. Although celebrations and events are for the most part cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she predicts in future years education and celebratory events will continue to grow along with the public’s understanding of the day. 

Along with the three-part commitment the Society has made to end racism and help create a business environment that offers equal opportunity to all, the entire OSCPA staff will observe and celebrate Juneteenth, closing the remote and physical offices. 

The momentum right now means leaders of businesses have an opportunity to make meaningful and influential change, Finley said. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines. 

“I think the most important thing any leader can do to lead their team or organization is just make space for these conversations,” she said. “Give people the space or meet them where they are. But you have to provide the information and give them the opportunity to engage.” 

Take action to engage in conversation and learning through our upcoming events: 

July 29 | Virtual 

Aug 13 | Virtual 

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