Reflecting on Juneteenth: Honoring the past and working towards a better future

As Juneteenth approaches, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the history and the significance of this holiday for both our employees and our society as a whole. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.* Now recognized each year on June 19, Juneteenth is a powerful holiday for all of us to honor as we remember and learn from the past in order to build a better, more equal future. As we remember, it is also important to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to foster social and racial justice for all.

Leading up to Juneteenth, members of our Black Professionals Employee Resource Group have shared personal experiences and valuable resources to help initiate these important discussions and create opportunities to reflect, research, recognize and grow. This week, we also hosted Mohammed Bilal, a diversity consultant and Associate Dean and Director for the Office of Inclusion, Belonging and Intergroup Communication at Stanford University, to discuss the importance of Juneteenth in the current state of the nation and the value that communities of color bring to the world.

On behalf of our Black Professionals Employee Resource Group, Adina Holmes, Implementation & Consulting, Educ Operation Services at ICE Mortgage Technology, shared a few thoughts on what Juneteenth means to her.

This Juneteenth, the 156th anniversary of that day in 1865, is especially worthy of celebration as just this week both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday, clearing the way for it to be signed into law by President Biden just days before people around the country come together in honor of this special day. It also comes on the heels of a landmark guilty verdict that vindicated the people of all races and walks of life who bore witness to and expressed their outrage over the repeated, tragic and fatal injustices against multiple people of color during the pandemic.

However, this Juneteenth should also be a moment of reflection as it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre and the 6th anniversary of the Charleston Church Massacre. Both, tragic events in our history that had been muted: one by those in power at the time who purposely distorted the events that occurred, and the other by a modern lack of connectedness.

So, great is this moment, this Juneteenth 2021, to reflect on the origins of our republic and the ways that we have made strides and conversely failed to make strides to live up to its ideals. It is my hope that everyone use this moment to reaffirm their purpose as citizens of the world, as colleagues in your organization, as neighbors in your community and as members of your family, so that next Juneteenth we can again see that the arc of the moral universe has bent that much closer to justice…for all. - Adina Holmes

ICE Mortgage Technology remains dedicated to creating a culture that promotes and values diversity and inclusion for all people. Our employees will be observing Juneteenth with a day off this Friday, June 18, in commemoration of this pivotal point in our country’s history. The time away is meant to allow for an opportunity for our teammates to reflect on the significance of the day, take a moment to honor its importance, and educate themselves on how it has impacted our society to this day, so that we may continue to fight modern-day injustices.

Join us as we honor Juneteenth together and look for local events to continue the celebration in your community.

* History of Juneteenth at Juneteenth.com

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