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Celebrating Juneteenth’s Present and Future

Juneteenth Today

Today, Juneteenth is celebrated in most major cities throughout the United States. These commemorations often take place outdoors and include parades, festivals, barbeque, fireworks, live music, and pageants. They are a communal celebration of freedom, of the human spirit and of hope. Red drinks are often served, symbolizing perseverance and honoring the blood that has been shed by African Americans. For many, Juneteenth celebrations are about closeness to one another, their families, ancestors, and community.

In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Since then, all but three US states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday or at the very least an observance. As you may know, New York State only formally designated Juneteenth as a public holiday last year. By choosing to observe Juneteenth as an organization and making it an annually observed company holiday, we at ESL are now recognizing a vital part of America’s history, one whose tapestry is woven with tragedy, a pervasive struggle against adversity and an earnest hope in a better future for all people.

Tweet screenshot: Juneteenth flag flies for first time at City Hall via @WXXINews
Tweet via @WXXINews:

In fact, when ESL closed our branches and offices for the first time in observance of the Juneteenth holiday in 2020, the reaction from the community was overwhelmingly positive. It was viewed as a long-overdue validation, more than anything else.

Celebrating Juneteenth

So how can we all do our part to honor the legacy of Juneteenth today and in the future?

  • We can of course celebrate Juneteenth and honor what it stands for. You can learn more about the Juneteenth holiday, including how and where it is being celebrated, at
  • We can learn about our nation’s past, recognizing that there are large swaths of our nation’s history that have been ignored, downplayed and left out of public education
  • We can educate ourselves and our families about the continuing challenges African Americans face today

Learn more about Juneteenth’s history >