June 19 marks a significant day in American history – Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. On this day in 1865, the enslaved African Americans of Galveston, Texas, received the news of their freedom from Union army troops. It was a momentous occasion as they learned that slavery had been abolished by law. However, it had officially ended two and a half years earlier with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The people of Galveston, filled with joy and hope, immediately embraced this newfound freedom. Just one year later, they began to commemorate it as a day of celebration, even if it arrived after the rest of the nation.
“Their emancipation, though delayed, opened the opportunity to begin a journey toward a better economic future for themselves and their future generations,” said Ignacio Salazar, President & CEO of SER Jobs for Progress National (SER National). “Freedom’s transformative power for those once enslaved gave them hope, resilience, and resolve to achieve their dreams. At SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates, this day serves as a reminder of the determination to help uplift individuals who experienced significant challenges but refuse to let those dampen their spirits or hinder their progress. Their unwavering resolve to improve their lives inspires us all,” says Salazar.
It took another 156 years for Juneteenth to become an official federal holiday, with President Joe Biden signing the law on June 17, 2021. Yet, the progress toward equitable economic opportunities continues to this day. For over six decades, SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates have been dedicated to assisting more than a million people annually in achieving their economic freedom through workforce development programs. These initiatives empower participants to uplift themselves, set new goals for their futures, and overcome the barriers that may have hindered them from reaching their full potential.
“Our mission at SER National is to empower people to overcome the challenges that have kept them from attaining their full potential,” says Salazar. “We strive to open a path so every participant can acquire the necessary skills training, personal and work-related development, and benefit from our broad support structure. The greatest reward is to see individuals grow and do whatever it takes to learn a new trade or profession. Yet, the data reflects the need for continued efforts to achieve prosperity and equality as a nation,” he adds.
Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is a momentous occasion that unites us in celebrating our country’s journey toward fulfilling the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. It is a time when we come together to honor the resilience of those who fought for freedom, acknowledge our progress, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of achieving equality and economic empowerment for every individual.
As we commemorate Juneteenth, La Familia de SER joins with our communities, partners, and stakeholders in recognizing the importance of this day. Together, we can build a brighter and more equitable future where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.
SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National) proudly joins the nation in recognizing and celebrating June as National Pride Month. Throughout history, their members have played an integral role in shaping America in all walks of life. We must acknowledge and appreciate their remarkable contributions.
“Our country is stronger, more vibrant economically, and a better society because we celebrate who we are, individually and collectively,” says SER National President & CEO Ignacio Salazar. “At SER National and throughout the SER Network of Affiliates (La Familia de SER), we value their skills, talents, and experiences. Our commitment to inclusivity is unwavering as we strive to do more to ensure their inclusion and make them feel welcome in all aspects of society. They are an important component to the power of our people.”
Pride Month traces its roots back to the historic Stonewall Riots, which took place over six days starting on June 28, 1969, in Greenwich Village, New York. Led by trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, a black, trans, bisexual woman, and Brenda Howard, known as the ‘Mother of Pride.’ The community fought for their rights and demanded a safe space to gather and build a supportive community. Their activism and resilience ignited a movement that continues to inspire us today.
We also recognize the pivotal role of past U.S. presidents in supporting their rights and officially recognizing Pride Month. President Bill Clinton first acknowledged Pride Month in 1999, and President Barack Obama declared June as Pride Month throughout his presidency from 2009. In 2019, President Donald Trump tweeted about launching a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.
Every American has a role to play in celebrating Pride Month. Community festivals, parades, and special events are held nationwide to inform, raise awareness, and foster support for America’s vital progress toward inclusivity, respect, and dignity for all individuals.
“Pride Month is also about speaking out against hate and intolerance,” adds Salazar. “Our country’s future workforce must reflect the diversity and strength of our entire society. As Harvey Milk envisioned when he designed the iconic rainbow flag, our nation thrives when everyone can add their unique identity, contributing to a beautiful unfurling of our full potential. Let us embrace the optimism and excitement for our future as a nation celebrating the diversity that defines us.”
SER National promotes equality, respect, and inclusivity for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Together, we can continue to build a society that values diversity and creates opportunities for everyone to thrive.
This Memorial Day, SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National), together with the SER Network of Affiliates, joins the nation in paying tribute to the courageous men and women who have served and died for our great country, protecting the ideals upon which the United States was founded and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Throughout America’s history since the Revolutionary War, nearly 650,000 individuals have selflessly given their lives in combat to protect freedom, leaving an indelible mark on our society.
Ignacio Salazar, SER National President & CEO, underscores the importance of honoring the sacrifices made by America’s service men and women, stating, “Those who laid down their lives on our behalf are worthy of our eternal gratitude and respect. They have taught us by example how to live our lives daily, engaged in exemplary work and service.”
Memorial Day is a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy left by these brave defenders of our democracy. The observance was first known as Decoration Day and started in 1868 to honor fallen Union soldiers from the Civil War. On that day, Americans placed flowers at the graves of their military loved ones who died in combat. Their sacrifice paved the way for the United States to be the land of opportunity, where all individuals can apply their talents, acquire an education, and persevere in their chosen trade or profession. Our nation continues to flourish through its unwavering dedication to this work ethic, serving as a beacon of hope for the world, generation after generation.
SER National takes pride in supporting the ideals and values representing the best of what Americans celebrate on Memorial Day. This day of remembrance is a solemn reminder of what our country truly is: a testament to the spirit of freedom and opportunity. We must never forget that our liberties, privileges, and pathways were opened and protected through the valiant service of our military members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Today, as we go about our daily work, may we pay tribute to their memory. Each day, we strive to honor the legacy of those who have fallen by engaging in honorable work, giving back to our communities, and contributing to the betterment of society. This dedication and commitment embody the principles SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates hold dear,” adds Salazar.
Also, on this Memorial Day, SER National pauses to extend our most profound appreciation to their families, who have borne the weight of their absence with dignity and strength. Together, we can build a brighter future, secure in the knowledge that we are preserving the legacy of service to God and Country.
Familia de SER,
We are delighted to share with you some exciting news demonstrating a significant step forward for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the future of our country. President Biden has made a remarkable decision by nominating Anna Gomez to join the FCC as a commissioner.
Anna Gomez’s extensive experience and expertise in communications policy make her an outstanding choice for this crucial role. Throughout her illustrious career, she has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of our country’s complexities and challenges, along with a genuine commitment to fostering innovation and promoting an inclusive digital future for all Americans.
As we look ahead to a rapidly evolving technological landscape, our regulatory bodies must be led by individuals who possess a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and complexities within the telecommunications sector. Anna Gomez’s track record advocating for policies that drive competition, expand broadband access, and protect consumers aligns perfectly with our company’s core values and aspirations.
We have had the privilege of witnessing Anna Gomez’s dedication and leadership firsthand, and we are confident that her appointment to the FCC will have a positive impact on the future direction of our industry. Her ability to balance the interests of diverse stakeholders while driving policies that promote fairness, innovation, and economic growth will be invaluable as we navigate the challenges and opportunities in the coming years.
We applaud President Biden for his selection of Anna Gomez and express our full support for her confirmation by the Senate. Although we are patiently awaiting approval from the Senate, her appointment to the FCC will usher in a new era of progress and collaboration, enabling us to further our mission of helping everyone in our country reach economic equity and contribute to advancing the telecommunications sector.
As we approach the vibrant and significant celebration of Cinco de Mayo, SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National) stands proud to honor the spirit of resilience and triumph that defines the American workforce. This auspicious occasion allows us to reflect upon the historical account that gave birth to this day, drawing powerful parallels to the undaunted spirit of American workers who have weathered the storms of economic challenges, especially in the new post-pandemic world.
Cinco de Mayo finds its roots in the audacious decision made by Mexican President Benito Juárez in 1861. Faced with a nation ravaged by civil war and financial ruin, Juárez suspended payment of foreign debts to the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. While the first two nations swiftly reached agreements for repayment and withdrew their warships, the French, under Emperor Napoleon III, had other intentions. They aspired to conquer Mexico and establish a pro-French monarchy.
In a remarkable turn of events, an elite French military force encountered an unexpected obstacle on May 5, 1862, in Puebla, led by the valiant Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza. Against all odds, Zaragoza and his ragtag army overcame the superior French forces, halting their advance toward Mexico City. Though the victory only postponed the inevitable French conquest, it served as a significant morale boost for a nation desperate for hope and inspiration.
Similarly, the American workforce has faced its own uphill battle, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that prime-age workers’ labor force participation rate surpassed its pre-pandemic levels in March 2023, reaching 83.1 percent, higher than any month from May 2010 to December 2018. This remarkable feat speaks volumes about American workers’ relentless determination and resilience.
Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER National, reflects on this journey and states, “The triumphs and challenges faced by American workers echo the spirit of Cinco de Mayo. Just as General Zaragoza’s victory provided hope for a beleaguered nation, American workers’ resilience, and unwavering spirit have brought us closer to a brighter future.”
We must acknowledge American workers’ immense sacrifices and efforts to rebuild their lives and communities in this new era. The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, and the economic fallout disproportionately affected communities of color. Unemployment rates surged across all racial and ethnic groups in April 2020, with Latino and Black workers bearing the brunt, experiencing unemployment rates of 18.8 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively.
Yet, as we emerged from the darkness, federal relief and recovery legislation, combined with the reopening of the economy and effective virus containment measures, spurred a resurgence in job growth. By the end of 2021, unemployment rates for Latino, Black, and white workers had steadily declined, approaching pre-pandemic levels. However, disparities persist, with Black and Latino unemployment rates still higher than their white counterparts.
Salazar further emphasizes, “We must continue our collective efforts to ensure equity and opportunity for all. By addressing the systemic barriers perpetuating disparities, we can forge a future where all workers, regardless of background, can thrive and contribute to a prosperous nation.”
As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let us remember the lessons from history and honor the indomitable spirit of American workers. Together, we can create a future where diversity is celebrated, where the tireless efforts of every worker are recognized and rewarded, and economic challenges are met with resilience and determination.
We see a future where the strength and unity of the American workforce will prevail. It is a future where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources regardless of race or ethnicity. We strive for a future where the disparities that persist today are eliminated, and the American dream is within reach for all.
We must advocate for policies promoting inclusivity, fairness, and equal opportunity to achieve this future. We must invest in education and job training programs that empower workers with the skills to thrive in the evolving economy. By fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business growth, we can create new avenues for economic advancement and reduce the wealth gap.
In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, let us draw inspiration from the courageous actions of General Ignacio Zaragoza and his army. They faced an overwhelmingly powerful adversary but emerged victorious through determination and unwavering resolve. Similarly, American workers have shown time and time again that they possess the strength and resilience to overcome any obstacle.
As we commemorate Cinco de Mayo, we honor the sacrifices made by our ancestors and pay tribute to the fortitude of American workers. We celebrate their unwavering spirit and commitment to building a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
On behalf of SER National, we extend our deepest gratitude to the American workforce for their relentless dedication and tireless efforts. We stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, as we navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic world and work towards a future where every worker can thrive.
Let us forge a path of resilience, triumph, and unity together. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National) and the SER Network of Affiliates are marking Cesar Chavez Day 2023 by affirming their strong continued commitment to the driving principles in Cesar Chavez’ forty years of organizing work as a labor advocate and social justice leader. In his 1984 address to the California Commonwealth Club, Chavez told the audience, “…we are filled with hope and encouragement. We have looked into the future, and the future is ours!”
“Those stirring words embodied the fire that burned in Chavez’ life-long dedication to empowering America’s farmworkers towards a better life through job conditions and economic opportunities,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National President, and Chief Executive Officer. “We, too, are dedicated to creating gateways through economic equity, our cornerstone mission, as we uplift the lives of more than a million people a year. Cesar reminded us, ‘you cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.’ So too, SER National and our SER Network of Affiliates undertake with our program participants, achieving lasting transformation through employment redevelopment, training, and an array of related services for their tomorrows and their families,” says Salazar.
Cesar Chavez is credited with leading the way for employment that paid at least a minimum wage and labor contracts that set out more humane working conditions, including potable drinking water, shaded rest areas for breaks, and restrooms. He also recalled his own experience when he dropped out of school at the age of 13 years, so he could join his family working in the fields. Later, he led the fight for reforms in child labor laws that included a prohibition against children being truant from school to work because they were migrants. At its peak, the United Farm Workers (UFW), led by Chavez, secured the support of an estimated 17 million Americans in calling for safer labor standards and actions to bring farm workers out of generational poverty.
“In each of history’s three waves of migrations across our country by Latino immigrants since the early 1900s — through Texas, California, and deserts in-between, seeking a better economic opportunity has been the driving force,” says Salazar. “Today, La Familia de SER continues to reach and serve countless descendants of those itinerant families, many of whom still benefit from the Si Se Puede / Yes We Can advocacy Chavez led, with Dolores Huerta. Through technology, training, and a comprehensive safety net of services, our work is the future that Chavez dreamed of in his day. Yes, we are proud to declare, as Robert Kennedy did, we stand taller because we marched with Cesar!” said Salazar.