Heluna Health joins the celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest national anniversary of the abolition of slavery. U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Thursday, June 17 designating ‘Juneteenth,’ or June 19, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
What is Juneteenth?
Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to announce the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed in 1863, but the news took two years to reach the Texas territory. When General Granger arrived, almost 250,000 Texan slaves had no knowledge that they had been emancipated. Today, many Black Americans view this commemoration as an unofficial Independence Day—the day when all Black citizens of the nation were no longer legally or in practice enslaved persons. Today and always, Heluna Health honors the many sacrifices and contributions made by African Americans and Black people living in the United States, and we join all of our employees, programs, and communities in celebrating Juneteenth. Going forward, we will be building Juneteenth into our 2022 holiday calendar.
Recognizing health equity and anti-racism work in our communities
True racial justice cannot exist while disproportionate barriers to health and wellness continue to exist for Black and African American communities. Our Board of Directors issued a formal statement on March 25, 2021 committing to strengthening our efforts in the areas of health equity and anti-racism. We think that everyone deserves justice, fairness, and the chance to live their healthiest lives possible.
Recognizing Juneteenth in the workplace
Back in September 2020, Heluna Health tapped 25 team members across its projects and programs to launch an agency-wide Workplace Inclusion Initiative. One goal of that initiative has been to gather input and develop recommendations to ensure that all Heluna Health employees feel maximally valued, seen, included, and engaged. Heluna Health’s Workplace Inclusion Initiative Workgroup collaborates to define inclusion priorities, set actionable goals, and design a long-term roadmap to implement those priorities and goals.
Through these efforts, one subgroup of our Workplace Inclusion Initiative has designed and developed a downloadable and printable calendar for our teams to honor and celebrate diversity year-round and learn about significant events across communities, cultures, races, religions, and ethnic groups. Having an easily accessible global cultural calendar is just one way we chose to highlight the many holidays and observances that are meaningful to our communities and the communities we serve, which we’re happy to share publicly. Access and download the calendar in PDF format here. Each holiday or observance noted on the calendar includes a hyperlink to an official source to learn more about its significance.
Moving forward, we will use the lens of population health to collaborate in identifying and dismantling oppressive systems that have prevented our communities from living their healthiest lives possible. We aim to achieve our objectives by incorporating social justice principles into our recruitment, hiring, and onboarding procedures, improving the employee experience with more DEI resources, and using data analyses to share our progress with our communities.
Resources for further learning:
- Digital Resources: Juneteenth: Celebration of Resilience
National Museum of African American History & Culture | Jun. 2021
- Honoring Black History on Juneteenth– New York Times
- Biden Signs Law Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday– New York Times
- Juneteenth: The Growth Of An African American Holiday (1865-) – Black Past
- Kids’ Books to Celebrate Juneteenth – New York Public Library
 9 things to know about the history of Juneteenth.” wrcbtv.com. N.P., 19 Jun. 2020. Accessed online Jun. 17, 2021. <https://www.wrcbtv.com/story/42268078/9-things-to-know-about-the-history-of-juneteenth