June 19, 2020

Firm News

Celebrating Juneteenth

Today we celebrate a critical Juneteenth in the history of this country. More people are learning about what this holiday means and why, as a nation, we have failed to properly commemorate and celebrate one our nation’s most important triumphs.

Wanta Thome PLC would like to take this opportunity to add our voice to all those emphatically proclaiming that it is past time we all work together in making a lasting seismic shift in our culture and systems. The narrative around structural racism has changed to one where recognition of the historical and contemporary policies, practices and other cornerstones of racisms are important and necessary. We also need to acknowledge the system we created and have allowed to proliferate.

We can all start doing that today by being informed about and celebrating Juneteenth because it is one action we can take in addressing the systemic racism that infects our nation. All at the cost of Black lives and livelihoods. Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of legal slavery in the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in January 1863, yet slavery did not end in all states. June 19, 1865, which became known as Juneteenth, was the day when the last enslaved Black people were freed, resulting in massive celebrations.

We are lawyers that have dedicated our entire careers to fighting against discrimination with the hope of making positive change – bit by bit. And while we know we make a difference, we recognize we can do more outside of the courtrooms or within the framework of laws that have been in place for years and years because obviously, the law is not enough. We are committed to having difficult conversations about racism and our history and donate, spend our money and other resources. We are committed to working harder and encourage others to do the same.

Employers can honor Juneteenth by:

  • Closing and giving non-salaried employees a paid day off where possible;
  • Giving non-salaried employees the option of taking it as a paid day off (or non-paid day off) amongst other holiday preferences; or
  • Celebrating Juneteenth in the workplace by recognizing the holiday with planned activities and/or discussions around it.

Juneteenth is not yet recognized as a legal holiday in Minnesota or by the federal government. Nevertheless, we encourage everyone to join us in honoring the labor our country was built upon and celebrate those who fought for freedom from slavery.