Did you know? Juneteenth was made an official federal holiday on June 17th, 2021, and this year will be Port Houston’s first-time celebrating Juneteenth in the workplace.
Kerrick Henny, Chief Government & Public Relations Officer at Port Houston, states “Juneteenth marks a date of major significance in American history and represents the ways in which freedom for Black people have been delayed. It is a reminder that “nobody is free until everybody is free” It should be celebrated as the day when all Americans were liberated and created equal. It should be a day to reflect, to learn, and grow as a nation and as a people.”
Ric Campo, Chairman of the Port Commission of the Port Houston Authority, states “This holiday is not only important to Texans, but is important to all Americans…we are grateful for it becoming law and receiving the recognition it has long deserved.”
At Port Houston, we recently adopted Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as part of our core values. We recognize that as a leader of commerce and economic activity in the most diverse city in the U.S. we have a responsibility to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the region. Port Houston is commemorating Juneteenth by hosting a celebration recognizing the importance of this national holiday. The celebration intends to spread awareness of Juneteenth’s history and highlight the significance it has in people’s lives.
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is the longest-running African American holiday and it commemorates June 19th, 1865; when General Gordon Granger led 2,000 Union troops to Galveston Bay announcing the 250,000 enslaved people of Texas to be free. This is two years following the emancipation proclamation. Which was signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1st, 1863, declaring the enslavement of people in Confederate states to be illegal. However, after the Emancipation proclamation was made effective in 1863, not all Confederate territory was immediately freed. The Union army did not have enough strength in the westernmost Confederate states to enforce the newly declared proclamation. Texas being one of the last states to be financially dependent on slavery, it was not until two and a half years later that Texas was no longer financially dependent on slaves.
“The two and half years it took for slaves in Texas to learn of their freedom shows us that freedom and equality for all people in this land are bedrock principles of the US Constitution. However, it also reminds us that change is not instant, and progress is earned by those who remain vigilant,” states Derek L. Garret, Project and Construction Manager at Port Houston.
Port Houston and Juneteenth
Juneteenth has always been an important part of U.S. history but has just recently received congressional recognition and acknowledgment for its role in shaping this nation. It also presents an opportunity to instill learning for generations to come.
“Unlike Independence Day, Juneteenth is a day for celebration because it recognizes when all Americans were liberated, free, and created equal. It’s important to recognize its place in our history and reflect on the long struggle by many for equal rights and how far we have to go. In honor of this holiday, I encourage everyone to take the time to reflect and gain a better understanding of our past so that we can come together for a brighter future,” states Jessica Shaver, Chief People Officer at Port Houston.
Port Houston aims to move the world and drive regional prosperity. Through our mission, we are dedicated to support the communities we serve and begin by ensuring employees feel heard and represented in the initiatives the port champions. Through this workplace celebration, the port has an opportunity to bring awareness and create a space for conversation that further drives diversity and equity in the workplace.
Maria Aguirre, Director of Community Relations at Port Houston, states “To me, the port celebrating Juneteenth means that we can collectively heal from the wounds of the past and move towards a future where we are all excepted and included.”
To learn more about Juneteenth, and the various celebrations happening in Houston, visit:
TSHA | Juneteenth (tshaonline.org)
Juneteenth events: Where to celebrate in Houston, Galveston | khou.com
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth | National Museum of African American History and Culture (si.edu)
Miller Outdoor Theatre | Wells Fargo Presents Juneteenth: The Journey To Freedom