Epic joy.

How we celebrate Juneteenth now.

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3 min read

Highlights:

  • Juneteenth National Independence Day is Sunday, June 19th but observed on Monday, June 20
  • Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 when 89 year old Opal Lee pledged to walk 1,400 miles from her home in Texas to Washington D.C., to draw attention to the historical importance of the day. 

Our Newest Federal Holiday

We have a new national holiday: Juneteenth National Independence Day. Its annual commemoration date is June 19, but since that’s a Sunday this year the legal holiday will be June 20. Although a recognized holiday in many states, the national holiday just was established last year—a full year after RingCentral began recognizing it as a paid holiday.

Juneteenth Background

While Juneteenth’s federal establishment may be recent, the holiday itself has been celebrated since June 19, 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger executed General Order No. 3 on June 19 in Galveston, Texas, freeing slaves in that last Confederate state. From that day forward, Juneteenth has been celebrated as Freedom Day by Black Americans. Celebrations started as church-centered community gatherings in Texas, and spread throughout the South. As the Great Migration of Black residents from the South to northern cities began, Juneteenth went with them. However, in the North, the celebrations have been more sporadic and have struggled for recognition even within the Black community

Lifting Every Voice

Robert Wilson

We spoke with BE@R (Black Employees @ RingCentral) members Quyanna Holmes and Robert Wilson about their personal experiences of Juneteenth, and about a few of the ways people spread joy now. As a Senior Revenue Analyst, Robert Wilson works with RingCentral partners on contracts from Belmont. He explained that prior to now he hasn’t celebrated Juneteenth the way some others traditionally have. Growing up in California, he was not familiar with the holiday because there weren’t a lot of public celebrations. He first learned about the holiday in an African American History class at Hampton University.  As a member of BE@R, Wilson is not only learning more about the holiday, but getting actively involved in the ways we’ll honor Juneteenth as a company.

BE@R is hosting a Juneteenth Special Edition House Party Friday with DJ E-Trane on Friday the 17th at 10AM PT.  We’ll also be sharing a list of Black businesses to support and Juneteenth celebrations around the U.S. 

Senior Manager of Global Benefits Quyanna Holmes is currently located in Dallas, but often returns to her hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas, where Juneteenth is a long-established celebration including a parade that ends at the local park and of course, the cookout. “The part I really like is that we make sure to include all the elderly members of the community who can’t come down to the park. We literally drive over plates of food and all of that, and the ones who live on the parade route usually come out on their porch and wave at us as we go past. It’s a big deal for the whole community.” 

Rising together

Quyanna Holmes

“Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the past, but also one of awakening and promise for what’s ahead,” says Holmes. “Diversity becomes truly meaningful for an organization when traditionally underserved people can look at the org chart and see people like them in management and at the C-level. I immediately heard it from Black people here, who told me-  “We’re so glad to see you in this (Senior-level) job.” I haven’t been here long, but I already see how RingCentral is focused on what’s ahead — and I’m confident I’ll be able to look above me on the org chart and see more people like me tomorrow. That’s what it means to rise together. That’s what Juneteenth can be for all of us.”  

Originally published Jun 16, 2022

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