Recognizing Juneteenth and the Continued Pursuit for Equity
Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of the enslavement of African Americans during the U.S. Civil War. Celebrated on June 19, it marks the day in 1865 that federal orders freeing slaves were read in Galveston, Texas. The official order ending slavery, known as the Emancipation Proclamation, had been made law in 1863. The holiday received its name by combining June and 19.
Since that first celebration in Texas, Juneteenth has grown to be recognized across the country with local festivals and state holidays or observances in 46 of 50 U.S. states. Most recently, calls have grown to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Many businesses, including PNC, are responding with formal observances. PNC offices and branches will close at 2 p.m. today.
"Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and a critical moment in our history, but full freedom cannot be achieved without equity," said Marsha Jones, PNC's Chief Diversity Officer. "The occurrence of Juneteenth in the midst of what could very well be the most significant civil rights movement of our time provides a powerful platform for dialogue and participation in activities that can drive true change."
Since the death of George Floyd while in police custody last month in Minneapolis, a wave of protests throughout the country have catapulted the fight for equality to the forefront of national conversation.
"The speed and force with which we, as a nation, seem to be moving toward change is remarkable," Marsha said. "On this momentous day, it is my hope that our employees will take some time to reflect, listen and learn."