Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19 in the United States. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and holds deep historical significance. On this day in 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, marking a momentous milestone in American history. Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the struggles, resilience and triumphs of the Black community, highlighting the importance of freedom, equality and justice.

Recognizing Juneteenth is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it serves as an opportunity to educate ourselves and future generations about the dark history of slavery and the enduring fight for civil rights. By acknowledging Juneteenth, we honor the contributions and sacrifices made by African Americans in shaping the nation’s identity. It is a day to celebrate progress while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done in dismantling systemic racism and fostering a more inclusive society.

Building a Better Future: Advocating for Equality and Inclusion

Despite the progress made in the fight against racial inequality, its effects still persist in our communities, including Chicago. From disparities in education and healthcare to racial profiling and systemic discrimination, the effects of racism continue to cast a long shadow over many lives. It is our collective responsibility to address these systemic issues and work towards a more just and equitable society. By amplifying black voices, supporting grassroots organizations and advocating for inclusive policies, we can strive to dismantle the barriers that perpetuate racial inequality and build a future where everyone has equal opportunities and access to resources.

What Juneteenth Means to FFC Employees

As part of FFC’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have invited some of our African American employees to share what Juneteenth means to them. 

“For more than two centuries slavery defined what would become the United States today. Slavery fueled the cotton industry making America, more importantly, the South, an economic power. Enslaved people rebelled from the beginning; breaking tools, escaping and much, much, more. While several states moved quickly towards abolition, the process was slow and painful. One year into the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the Union, freeing more than 300,000 enslaved people. Months later he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing over 5 million people across America. January 31, 1865 Congress passed the 13th amendment, making slavery illegal. Nevertheless, it still persisted in certain spots in the South. Until June 19, Gen. Gordan Granger marched into Galveston, TX announcing to all people, “slavery has ended, and has been over for the past two years.” Over a century later, as a father and a descendant of those enslaved people, Juneteenth’s cultural significance became a celebration of the demise of slavery. The righteous pursuit of true freedom for all and a continued pledge to remember the past and dreams of the future. Juneteenth’s importance cannot be stressed enough.” – D. Terron Edmonds, FFC Oak Park, Food and Beverage Manager

“As an African naturalized into American Citizenship, Juneteenth represents the triumph of truth and knowledge over ignorance and suffering. Juneteenth reminds me of the importance of learning the history and context of the United States, of challenging injustices in the status quo and of the simple necessity of sharing beneficial information. 

‘Knowledge Is Power’ and ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’ as the sayings go. Juneteenth demonstrates the possibility of realizing paradigm shifting transformation when knowledge and the truth are championed and shared widely. Let knowledge flow and so may human life be enriched.“ – Adeoye M Mabogunje – Master Pilates Trainer, FFC West Loop

“Juneteenth holds a deep historical and cultural significance as it symbolizes the end of slavery in the United States and represents the long and arduous struggle for freedom and equality. Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the resilience, strength and determination of our African American ancestors that fought against the institution of slavery and its enduring legacy.

Juneteenth is also a time for reflection, education and celebration of our rich culture. It provides an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of African Americans to American society, culture and history. It is a day to honor and remember the struggles and sacrifices of those who came before, and to celebrate the progress made in the ongoing fight for racial justice and equality.” – Mike Gorrell – Membership Director, FFC West Loop

“Juneteenth is a celebration. In school we were taught about our ancestors and the struggle they overcame; but we were never educated on the good memories of our ancestors. Imagine how depressing it felt to hear about innocent people being enslaved while you were living ’free’. At the age of 24, yes 24, I used that ‘depressing’ feeling as fuel. I now use my voice to uplift and influence black individuals to look at this day as a celebration. A celebration of power, authenticity, growth and unity.” – Kilah McCline – Senior Designer, FFC Corporate 

“To me it means, as a nation, more recognition of misdeeds in our history.” – Brad Johnson – Membership Director, FFC Gold Coast 

“Even though Emancipation was ordered on that particular day, there was still a high percentage of enslaved blacks that were never told about their freedom. After Emancipation? Well that story is too long to write about. Luckily, Lincoln felt the only way to win the war was to free the slaves that led to Emancipation. I still bet you a lot of Black people in America can’t even tell you what Juneteenth is all about! What it means to me is perseverance of people that have a little ways to go within ourselves.”  – Skip Chapman – MAT Full Body Specialist , FFC Gold Coast

“Juneteenth to me means that although we have come far, we still need to keep fighting.” – Nicole Cobb – Member Experience Manager, FFC Gold Coast

By celebrating Juneteenth and fostering dialogue and understanding, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Post written by FFC Marketing Communications Director, Nicole Maue.