By Simone E. Facey
Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, honors the widely recognized end of slavery in the United States, and is an important holiday in American history.
On June 19, 1865, the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas to declare freedom for the enslaved. Although the Emancipation Proclamation became effective in 1863, it took more than two years for its impact to be realized in Texas. It took even more time for slavery to be formally abolished through the 13th Amendment in late 1865. Juneteenth represents how the quest for freedom is winding and fraught with perseverance.
The abolishment of slavery did not occur out of thin air. Instead, it was preceded by a chain of events, both small and large, highlighting how we all play a part in shaping the greater good. As WellCare associates, this is great inspiration for each of us to challenge ourselves each day to engage in actions that create a welcoming and inclusive work environment.
Even more strikingly, it highlights how the American experience can vary across cultures based on defining moments in our history. Juneteenth was undoubtedly a significant moment for African-Americans, but there is still work to be done.
We are living in a time where many Americans feel more divided than ever before, and we work with an increasingly diverse member set. For me, this has meant taking a step back to realize that life exists outside of my personal bubble and challenging myself to learn more about the diverse histories of others, so that I can be a better ally and supporter.
In celebration of Juneteenth, the WellCare African-American Associate Resource Group invited guest speaker Cheryl R. Rodriguez, Ph.D, noted scholar and director of the Institute on Black Life-Center for Africa and Diaspora, to lead a conversation on the importance of Juneteenth to our collective history and its effect on the black experience.
I hope that on this Juneteenth, we’ll all take a moment to show gratitude for how far we have come and reflect on what we can each do to make a lasting impact.
Simone E. Facey is Director of Corporate Strategy and the Lead of WellCare’s African-American Associate Resource Group.