Care, conversations, and a commitment to action. These words highlight Blue Yonder’s response to ending racial injustice. We are now in the month of June 2021; we remember the historic day of Juneteenth celebrated on the third Saturday of this month. Juneteenth (June 19, 1865) is a very symbolic date that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved black people in the U.S. On this day, hundreds of thousands of people were made aware of their freedom when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of the Civil War and issued an order to officially free them. Please keep in mind that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, which means that for more than two and a half years slavery continued in our country illegally.  

What does Juneteenth mean to associates at Blue Yonder? A few share their sentiments on what Juneteenth means to them and why it’s an important day in U.S. history:

“Juneteenth, in my mind, is known as Jubilee Day! Easily just as important to U.S. history as the Fourth of July, Juneteenth is the true celebration of freedom in America as all people were finally free.  It is a day to celebrate Black lives, to remember our history as a country, to learn about the injustices that still exist, and take action.” – Aida DeJonghe

“It is important and necessary for Juneteenth to be celebrated as a milestone in America culture. It needs to have more recognition across the nation, particularly in light of the current events of racism and police brutality. By celebrating, we are acknowledging the history and the continued struggles in our communities today.” – Jolene Hilden

“As a Black African born-American woman I have lived in the United States, mainly Texas, for over 25 years. I looked at life through rose-colored spectacles, not that this a bad thing, but in reference to this piece of Texas history – the plight of my brothers and sisters birthed from slavery in a country now theirs, but so far removed from their origin. I come from a country once colonized. The difference is that when we got our independence, the colonizers left and as a country, we reclaimed our land, maintained our culture, heritage and most importantly our name – a symbol of one’s true identity and story. African Americans in the U.S. did not have this same ‘luxury’ and were forcibly ripped from their family and home. Enslaved in captivity, their names were stripped, culture and heritage denied, then when freed were supposed to “carry on,” but how, when the playing field was uneven and rose tinted? Today we still face the consequences of a brutal history. Taking off the rose-colored spectacles allowed me to reckon with the scars for the first time! Juneteenth to me means acknowledging and cementing a clear understanding of a people’s raw history well enough, to bridge a divide, heal, and celebrate what ought to be, in my very humble opinion, a national holiday.” – Lucy Chepkoech Tapletkoi Sum-Reber

“My family, as well as my husband’s family didn’t celebrate Juneteenth growing up.  It wasn’t because we didn’t want to but rather because it wasn’t widely taught or talked about. It’s unfortunate Juneteenth hasn’t yet received the same glitz and glam as the 4th of July, because its historical reference is just as important to the history of this country. However, I am delighted to see more visibility and education on this moment in the African American culture.  Juneteenth means freedom and pride to our people and we will continue to highlight our significance in the world!” – Kellie Allmon-Davis

“Juneteenth needs to be as important/celebrated/revered as the 4th of July. After all, it signifies the true freedom of everyone in the nation. It took 87 years after our independence from Britain to abolish slavery, and an embarrassing two more years before every person was free. Personally, I didn’t know these facts, I wish I didn’t have to look it up.  Slavery is a dark part of our nation’s history, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. People were brutalized, tortured, mistreated, and deemed less than because of the color of their skin. We must pay our respects to those and their families and celebrate when they were finally free. After all, it’s the least we can do.” – Jessica Shilling

“What does Juneteenth mean to me?  It is both complicated and bittersweet.  Indeed, I am happy that this day serves as the end of chattel slavery for Black Americans, albeit two years post the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed in 1863. But it is sad because freedom in this context still did not equate to equality.  Consider that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, 89 years prior to June 19, 1865 granting that all men were created equal.  So, while Black Americans were indeed free of total ownership by another, they still were not equal and able to take part of all the protections and freedoms guaranteed to America’s citizens until many years later. And still, the fight for equality and equal protection under the law wages on. However, I recognize that as a first step, you must first be free. So, on this Juneteenth, I will celebrate my freedom and humanity while we continue to persevere for freedom and equality for all.” – Leslie Martin

“Juneteenth is a very important day in American history – one that is not often talked about in our schools here in the U.S. It’s not only a day that should be celebrated and remembered, but also a day to educate ourselves. We need to look at the systemic delay and oppression that we see echo from this time – freedom did not mean equal, it meant that enslaved people were no longer seen as property. As we have seen, we need to continuously look at how these echoes have affected people in all areas – from education, finances (redlining, etc.), healthcare, safety and justice – the list is long. It’s a reminder to look deep at the difference between equality and equity.” – Amanda Groger