This Sunday, June 19, we will join others in the US and around the world to observe Juneteenth—the last date that enslaved people around the country learned they had been emancipated—two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced on January 1, 1863.
We observe Juneteenth as a time to celebrate the end of enslavement for black people in America and to highlight those who led courageous efforts to bring awareness to Juneteenth, ensuring its significance in American history is not forgotten. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth was officially declared a federal holiday in the US—making it the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history. This year on Monday, June 20, Blackbaud will observe Juneteenth for the first time as a paid US holiday.
Several leaders and activists throughout the US have played an important role in achieving this milestone and as a part of our global celebration of Juneteenth, we highlighted Ms. Opal Lee, aka, “The Grandmother of Juneteenth”. Here’s what we shared with employees:
About Opal Lee:
- Opal Lee, 95, is an American retired teacher, counselor, and activist who participated in the movement to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday
- At age 89, Opal Lee walked 1,400 miles from her home in Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C. on a mission to make Juneteenth a national holiday
- In total she walked 1,400 miles—2.5 miles per city to signify the two and half years that slaves were unaware they were free after the Emancipation
- Opal Lee’s dream and 40-year fight to make Juneteenth a national holiday was finally realized when she was invited to the White House to witness President Biden sign the bill in June 2021
- To learn more about Opal Lee’s story and Juneteenth watch: Our America: Black Freedom
Some other ways employees are engaging in our Juneteenth celebration include exclusive access to our EVERFI 306 Continuing the Story course—an interactive learning opportunity that explores some of the lesser-known stories about the Black experience in the US—and participation in an employee-led Juneteenth Book club. The book of choice is Dear Martin by Nic Stone.
At Blackbaud, we are always excited to learn and grow together. As we approach this year’s Juneteenth observance, we do so in solidarity, celebrating the stories and experiences that are an important part of America’s history.