Posts tagged with "Juneteenth"

Allstate, Progressive drop company over racist Juneteenth sign

June 28, 2022

People in the town of Millinocket, Maine, found their own ways to observe Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Yet, a sign posted in the window of an insurance company has received the most attention after it not only dismissed the new holiday but also included a racist trope regarding Black people and fried chicken, reports The Washington Post.

“Juneteenth, it’s whatever … we’re closed,” the sign read outside of the Harry E. Reed Insurance Agency, according to a photo posted to social media. “Enjoy your fried chicken and collard greens.”

As the firm has faced backlash over the sign, insurance giants Allstate and Progressive announced this week they are dropping the Maine company, after days of national headlines. An Allstate spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post that the company had terminated its contract with the Harry E. Reed agency, which Allstate described as an “independent agent.”

“Our commitment to Inclusive Diversity and Equity is nonnegotiable and we take action when individuals violate our code of conduct,” a statement from Allstate said.

Progressive spokesperson Jeff Sibel told the Post that the company was “appalled by the sign recently posted at the Harry E. Reed Agency” and that Progressive was also terminating its relationship with the firm.

“We’re committed to creating an environment where our people feel welcomed, valued and respected and expect that anyone representing Progressive to take part in this commitment,” Sibel said in a statement. “The sign is in direct violation of that commitment and doesn’t align with our company’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.”

Melanie Higgins, who helps run the insurance firm with her mother, wrote in a Wednesday letter posted to Facebook that she had posted the sign. Higgins apologized “for any misunderstanding or hurt that has arisen out of my usual, snarky office closure signs and content” and said she had been reprimanded for her actions.

“My only explanation I can offer is I had a death in my family, and I just wanted to go home and I quickly wrote the note,” Higgins wrote, identifying herself as multiracial. “I can assure you all, truly, I would never in any facet of the word be characterized a racist. Nor would I purposely incite such acts.”

Messages left for the insurance firm were not immediately returned.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Americans eager to begin celebrating Juneteenth as a federal holiday on Saturday

June 18, 2021

On Saturday, June 19, Americans will mark Juneteenth National Independence Day as their 12th legal public holiday—and the first new one since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 by then-President Ronald Reagan, CNBC reports.

President Joe Biden was set to sign a bill on Thursday  establishing Juneteenth, the date marking the end of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday. The 3:30 p.m. (EDT) signing event at the White House came two days before Juneteenth itself, which falls on June 19 each year.

Juneteenth marks the date that the last enslaved African Americans were granted their freedom. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.

CNBC notes that the final act of liberation came months after the Confederate army’s surrender ended the Civil War, and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The holiday legislation passed this week with overwhelming support in both chambers of Congress. The Senate approved the bill unanimously  on June 15 and the House passed it in a 415-14 vote.

The Juneteenth legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts). The House version, sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) was co-sponsored by 166 lawmakers.

The only votes against the bill came from Republicans. On the House floor before the vote, some GOP lawmakers complained about the name of the holiday, and others expressed concern about the cost of giving the federal workforce another day off. Some also railed against Democrats for pushing the bill to a vote without first allowing committees to examine the legislation and offer amendments.

Still, most House Republicans, even those who objected to parts of the bill, ended up voting for it.

The 14 no votes were entered into the record by the following Representatives: p. Mo Brooks (R-Alabam, Andy Biggs ( R-Arizona), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee). Tom Tiffany (R-Wisconsin),  Doug LaMalfa (R-California), Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Tom McClintock (R-California), Matt Rosendale (R-Montana), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia).

Research contact: @CNBC

American freedom is not just celebrated on July 4: Here’s what you need to know about Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

It’s a day that celebrates and commemorates the true meaning of America—freedom, equality, and justice for all—and it will be observed with jubilation this year, as U.S. citizens nationwide continue to hit the streets to insist that Black Lives Matter.

It’s called Juneteenth and, over 150 years later, it will be observed by more Americans than ever before on Friday, June 19, ABC News reports.

American history lessons generally teach that when President Abraham Lincoln went public with the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862—three days after Union troops halted the advance of Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee near Sharpsburg, Maryland in the Battle of Antietam—it ended the Civil War and slavery.

But it took another 30 months and 19 days for the order to be carried out in Galveston, Texas—the last municipality in the United States where African Americans were still enslaved.

Texas was one of the seven Confederate States of America, and even when Lincoln’s executive order was enacted on January 1, 1863, “they weren’t going to recognize that anyway,” Dwayne Jones, executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation, recently told ABC News.

“In fact, there were slave owners who moved from parts of the South, from slave states, to continue the practice of slavery in Texas because they knew they could practice there for a longer time without interruption,” Kelly E. Navies, a museum specialist and oral historian with the National Museum of African American History and Culture confirmed to the network in an interview.

Jones said that when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with a force of 2,000 Union troops dressed in red to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, it was “very significant.”

During the church-oriented event, a hog was roasted as songs filled the air in between readings of the proclamation.

A combination of the month and date of Granger’s arrival in Galveston transformed the holiday into the name it’s been known as for over 100 years: Juneteenth.

“The celebration of Juneteenth gives people a chance to pause and think about the history behind what we are going through right now,” said Navies. “It gives people the opportunity to ask themselves what are the root causes to the racial conflicts we are experiencing.”

Observances of Juneteenth have generally become more secular, but the tradition remains as celebrations have expanded to cities including BuffaloKansas City,  and Chicagoand this year, will also be seen in New York State and others nationwide due to the success of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional in-person Juneteenth gatherings have been scheduled to take place through livestreaming services like Facebook Live and Zoom, ABC News reports.

The police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 and the protests that followed have generated an increased interest in the history of Juneteenth.

“We thought for the 150th anniversary five years ago, we would have gotten more attention, but it really took, unfortunately, other events in order to bring attention to it,” said Jones.

Research contact: @ABC