June 19 marks a historically important event in the U.S. Known as Juneteenth, it’s considered by many to be the country’s second Independence Day.
Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when thousands of enslaved people in Texas were ordered free – nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been put in place.
In 1979, Texas became the first state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a day of observance. According to legislator and civil rights activist Al Edwards, who helped make it happen: “Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations.”
Despite the recent recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, racism and injustice persist. UPS and its Equity, Justice and Action Taskforce are looking to play an active role in promoting change to create a more just, equitable world. Nikki Clifton, who leads the taskforce, talked about UPS’s purpose-driven mission.
“There’s an African proverb that I love that says ‘If you pray, move your feet,’” she said. “Even if you’re not a praying person, insert whatever gives you hope. When you dream, when you desire … move your feet. That means there’s action behind your intentions.”
UPS has been longtime partners with organizations that promote racial justice, such as the National Urban League and the NAACP, and have formed new partnerships with organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative.
The company’s global public affairs team has been working to advance pro-justice legislation such as the federal Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would designate lynching as a federal hate crime; and is advocating for passage of hate crimes legislation in South Carolina and Wyoming – the only two states in the country that lack such a law.
“No one is safe until we are all safe,” said CEO Carol B. Tomé. “And we know there is no place in any community anywhere in the world for racism, bigotry or hate. We will not stand quietly or idly on the sidelines of this issue.”