Celebrating Juneteenth and Honoring Its History

Friday May 31, 2024

Hensel Phelps honors Juneteenth by recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of the African American and Black communities. We encourage our people to celebrate Juneteenth and honor our company’s core value of Community by standing as allies for one another. Our Building Together campaign encourages us to learn more about unfamiliar topics so we can rise in support and recognition of harmful histories that have informed the lived experiences of our people.

Juneteenth—a combination of the words June and nineteenth—is a United States federal holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people after the end of the Civil War. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that the last slaves in Texas were freed. Juneteenth has been celebrated since the late 1800s and became a federal holiday in 2021, also referred to as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is the longest-running African American holiday, first officially recognized by the State of Texas in 1979. Annual celebrations have evolved, with events of reflection and rejoicing, parades, artwork, barbecues and community gatherings.

“Juneteenth is officially recognized here (in the U.S.), but it’s also recognized in a number of European and African countries around the world for one basic thing: it reflects on the notion of freedom…freedom ought to be celebrated,” said Dr. Quintard Taylor, professor and African American historian.

Dr. Taylor is an accomplished author who has written multiple books on African American history. He emphasizes the importance of understanding this holiday and the unjust history behind it. While celebrating freedom is essential, it’s also important to recognize the meaning of Juneteenth.

“As a historian, I commit to one main principle. We have to tell the truth, and if it’s uncomfortable, then so be it because history is not true history if it’s simply designed to make people feel good…history tells us the good, the bad, and the ugly and sometimes we have to know and recall the ugly in order to embrace the good,” said Dr. Taylor. Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel to learn more about Juneteenth and hear other insights from Dr. Taylor.

Hensel Phelps celebrates Juneteenth by honoring the accomplishments and contributions of Black communities, encouraging unity and allyship among our people. Through our Building Together campaign, we strive to learn more about the histories that shaped us, standing in support of each other as we reflect on the significance of Juneteenth.