On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made it illegal to own slaves in the succeeding Confederate states. Under this executive order, any slave who made it safely across the Union state border would be declared free. Unfortunately, freedom for many slaves, especially those in Texas, wasn’t instantaneous in 1863. In fact, it took two long years, or until 1865 for slavery to end in America.
Why did it take so long? That’s because the decree had to be enforced by Union soldiers, who were hard to come by in Texas, especially as the Civil War raged on. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers finally reached Texas as the war came to a close and informed enslaved people that they were free.
Today, the Juneteenth holiday celebrates the end of slavery, although it wasn’t until America ratified the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865, that slavery was outlawed nationwide. Until that point, slavery was legal in two Union states Delaware and Kentucky.
Even still, the popularity of the Juneteenth holiday grew over time and is treated as a day to celebrate the abolishment of slavery, as well as the history and accomplishments of Black Americans. In fact, it’s grown so popular that President Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday in June 2021. A historic moment for the United States — 156 years in the making.
How Hone is Celebrating Juneteenth
Alongside this declaration, we’ve seen an increase in effort from the government, communities, and organizations to observe, respect, and celebrate the rich history of our African American friends, families, and colleagues. We have seen more and more businesses take a stand and make Juneteenth a formal holiday and we intend to be among them.
Effective June 19, 2022, Hone will also honor and celebrate Juneteenth by making it a company-wide holiday. As Juneteenth falls on a Sunday this year, our employees will observe it on Monday, June 20th. While we’ll be giving employees the day off, we encourage them all to use this time to give back to their communities, learn about Black culture, and reflect on how they can help build a more equitable world.
As Hone’s CEO & co-founder Tom Griffiths shared in a recent memo to our employees, “As individuals, we all must remain relentless in our pursuit of both equality and equity. Slavery across this nation left a legacy of systemic racism, oppression, and the marginalization of the African American community. While Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a momentous step, we still have more work to do. The impacts of slavery are still experienced across our country today, including through disparate access to healthcare, quality education, and economic opportunity.”
As we approach June 19th, our co-founders Tom and Savina have encouraged all of the Hone family to reflect on our nation’s history, the horrors of centuries of bondage, and the difficult road from liberation to equality. Let us resolve to build a future, both in our work lives and in our communities, that is represented and lifted up by our own ideals, our values, and our best selves.