SER National joins the nation in commemorating Juneteenth, a pivotal moment in our history that marked a new beginning for countless individuals. On this date in 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the freedom of more than a quarter-million enslaved people. This proclamation came two and a half years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous day was celebrated with jubilant expressions of culture, faith, and community – the very essence of the Juneteenth observances we witness today.

“On Juneteenth, SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates proudly celebrate the diversity of our nation’s workforce,” says Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO. “Also, we acknowledge the individual skills, talents, experiences, and perspectives that we share when we can come together in whatever industry we choose. Yet, we can continue to have our identity and uniqueness as individuals. Yes, America may be a melting pot in many ways because unity of purpose strengthens us. However, having our personal daily preferences in food, music, clothing, and so many other aspects of our lives is also a freedom we enjoy in this country,” he adds.

As Juneteenth festivities expanded beyond Texas, they symbolized resilience and cultural pride and reminded of the ongoing pursuit of racial justice and equality. The designation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021 was a significant acknowledgment of our nation’s journey and the work that remains.

Despite progress, disparities persist in the American workforce. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that Black employees face systemic challenges, including higher unemployment rates and wage gaps, particularly in transportation, healthcare, retail, and service industries. These findings underscore the importance of Juneteenth’s message in the modern workplace: the call for a society where every individual can thrive in their chosen field without prejudice.

Salazar further emphasizes the broader implications of Juneteenth: “Another important truth of Juneteenth is that we are blessed with another opportunity to reflect upon the promise of America and ask ourselves what else can I do to make sure that every person is included in the fulfillment of that dream. Our workplace every day gives us each a new chance to interact with each other respectfully and with genuine appreciation, making it a safe and welcoming space for all. May Juneteenth 2024 be another step forward toward achieving that goal.”

As we observe Juneteenth, let us honor the past while actively shaping a future where the workplace is a bastion of inclusivity, respect, and equal opportunity for all.