Better Banking Blog

The 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth

Jun 19, 2020

Juneteenth Flag

Juneteenth (“Freedom Day” & “Jubilee Day”) is rooted in liberation and celebrating Black communities’ contribution to American society, while acknowledging the continued struggle to rise from the transatlantic slave trade - which is showing up today in the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of the transatlantic slave trade in the United States.

This year marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth and a moment for all to acknowledge how the legacy of slavery perpetuates today, and reflect on how we can use our collective impact for positive change.

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring all enslaved people legally “free.” But it wasn't until two months after the Civil War ended in April 1865 that federal troops arrived in Texas to enforce the freedom of the last remaining enslaved Black people.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas were notified, along with the more than 250,000 other enslaved Black people in the state, that they were free by executive decree.

You can learn more about the historical legacy of Juneteenth from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. To celebrate “our country’s second independence day,” they’ve curated a virtual tour, stories behind objects from that time, and more.

The words "Juneteenth, Freedom Day" with the silhouette of a face and the Juneteenth flag

This Juneteenth, we’re reflecting on Black pioneers in the banking industry, like Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934), the first Black woman to organize and serve as president of a bank in the U.S.: St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, opened in 1903.

This is also a moment to reflect on the “Tax on Black and Brown Customers When Dealing With Community Banks.” Findings are based on New America’s study, “Racialized Costs of Banking.” The study unveils many inequalities, like how communities of color pay more to open and maintain accounts.

We encourage you to read “Why the History of Juneteenth Is More Relevant Than Ever,” by Dr. Tiffany Jana, founder and CEO of Certified B Corporation TMI Consulting.

If you want to help make Juneteenth a national holiday, sign and share this petition started by 93-year-old Texan, Opal Lee. Juneteenth is an observed holiday in 47 states and Washington D.C. but not a mandated federal holiday, yet.

If you’re interested in going further, B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies and powers B Corporations, created a portal of Anti-Racism resources. “As a community of responsible business leaders, we must get to work to move beyond rhetoric and take meaningful action against racism.”

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