Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States, a celebration of the freedom granted to African-Americans that is focused on education and achievement. As with most federal holidays, the stock and bond markets will be closed in observance of the holiday, and since it falls on a Sunday this year, markets will be closed on Monday, June 20th.
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Last June, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, creating the first new federal holiday in nearly 40 years. Juneteenth is observed on the 19th day of June every year.
As with most federal holidays, the stock and bond markets will be closed in observance of the holiday, and since it falls on a Sunday this year, markets will be closed on Monday, June 20th.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States, a celebration of the freedom granted to African-Americans that is focused on education and achievement.
Though the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery was adopted on Dec. 18, 1865, June 19 marks the day when black slaves were first notified of their emancipation via the announcement by General Gordon Granger of the Union Army on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas.
African-Americans have celebrated this day for over 155 years. Now, all Americans join in that celebration to mark this historic milestone toward delivering on the promise of this country’s founding principle that “all men are created equal.”
Juneteenth is often referred to as the nation’s second independence day. It is celebrated similar to most American summer holidays with barbecues, parades and other outdoor activities.
Celebrating the Holiday
Private employers are not obligated to provide workers with paid time off for any federal holiday, though many will observe Juneteenth, including the securities industry where markets will be shut.
Private employers can do a number of things to recognize this newest holiday. One step is to provide workers paid time off so they can celebrate the holiday with family, friends and community.
If that’s impractical, employers may elect to offer employees time and a half for working on a holiday, similar to other holidays.
Perhaps the most important step an employer can take is to discuss and celebrate the holiday in the workplace. According to a 2021 Gallup survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans have little or no knowledge of Juneteenth.1 That comes as no surprise since this bit of history is generally not taught in school.
For businesses that seek to be socially active in their community, they may want to consider ways to celebrate Juneteenth in the years ahead. Some ideas to consider are hosting a community event; encouraging libraries, city hall and private businesses to place Juneteenth displays and signs outside; and recognizing African-American community leaders and achievements.
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