ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — “In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” read President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. That's the line in his executive order that ended slavery on Sept. 22, 1862 in the U.S.
It wasn't until three years later, on June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans actually found out about it and were then set free.
This day is known as Juneteenth – or is sometimes referred to as Emancipation Day. This year marks the 156th anniversary.
Juneteenth is celebrated by people in the African American community in similar ways that Independence Day is celebrated. Cookouts, parties, and picnics are thrown in honor of the day.
Texas was the first U.S. state to deem Juneteenth a state holiday over 100 years later in 1980. Forty-seven other states have also marked the day as a holiday or day of observance. Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the remaining states that have not recognized the day.
As a result of many protests and campaigns to push for social change and equality for people of color in America last year after the murder of George Floyd, many companies announced they would recognize Juneteenth as a holiday while some are even taking the initiative to provide holiday-like benefits to employees.
Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington.
A blog sent to all employees by President & Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen of Adobe stated the company has a responsibility to address structural inequality in its communities and in society.
"Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. This year, on June 19th, we are giving all Adobe employees the day off to focus on reflection and advocacy," the blog said.
Last year, Allstate announced in a release that it would be observing Juneteenth as an annual company holiday to "provide Allstaters the opportunity to reflect on this monumental event and engage in their communities."
Other companies like Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Nike, Postmates, and many more have declared Juneteenth as a company holiday that grants workers time off.
Juneteenth is currently not a national holiday. However, a bill has been passed by the U.S. Senate. If it is passed by the House, it would be known as "Juneteenth National Independence Day," officially becoming the 12th federal holiday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told the Associated Press that recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a major step forward to acknowledging the wrongs of the past.
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