Discussing Juneteenth with Goodwill Leaders

    [fa icon="calendar"] Jun 19, 2024 3:00:00 PM / by Noelle Gray

    Noelle Gray

    Since 2021, the United States has observed Juneteenth annually on June 19. On that date, in 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that all enslaved African Americans were finally free. This was over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, issued under President Abraham Lincoln, went into effect.


    At Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, we’re proud to not only celebrate Juneteenth but have thoughtful conversations about the holiday and how it affects our employees.

    “In some ways, Juneteenth is a Fourth of July equivalent for me,” said Travis Darden, Goodwill’s senior director of retail stores and eCommerce. “In 1776, when America declared its independence, my ancestors were at least a hundred plus years into brutal chattel slavery with many more years to go before finally free.”

    Even in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the Confederacy couldn’t be federally enforced in many of the Confederate states because of the Civil War. This was especially true in Texas; the state had seen little Union presence and combat during the war. 

    When federal soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, finally came to Galveston, there were 250,000 people still enslaved in Texas. Freedom wasn’t attainable for all enslaved people in the Confederacy immediately – but once the news that they were officially free under the law, it was cause for celebration.

    The first Juneteenth celebrations were organized by Texan freedmen in 1866, a year after word of emancipation reached Galveston. Early celebrations included prayer meetings, community gatherings, music and food. Celebrations in Texas were so popular that many communities would put funds together to purchase public property to hold gatherings

    As Black Texans migrated to other states, the tradition followed, and Juneteenth became a nationwide phenomenon.

    Headshot Collage

    Today, the holiday is celebrated with barbecues, faith services and the recognition of African Americans’ heritage and the importance of freedom. 

    “Juneteenth represents a poignant movement of liberation and resilience for me as a Black woman,” said Dr. Trelles Evans, Goodwill’s senior director of coaching and reentry services. “It’s a day to honor the struggles and celebrate the strength of my ancestors who fought tirelessly for freedom and equality. To celebrate, I gather with family and friends for great food, participate in local events, and reflect on our history through storytelling and music, cherishing the rich cultural heritage that shapes my identity.”

    For Lakia Osborne, senior director of Goodwill Education Initiatives, she supports Black-owned businesses all year – but makes them a central part of her Juneteenth celebration.

    “For me, Juneteenth is a day of liberation,” said Lakia. “I partake in festivities, BBQs, concerts, and connect with friends, family and the community.”

    A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is one of our primary objectives in the One Goodwill Strategic Plan. We’re honored to observe Juneteenth, support the celebration and share the holiday’s message!

    “Our culture is rich, our pride is powerful, our spirits are infectious and our endurance is something to admire,” said Ms. Osborne.

    Topics: Leadership Spotlight, Strategic Plan, DEI

    Noelle Gray

    Written by Noelle Gray

    Subscribe to Email Updates

    Lists by Topic

    see all

    Posts by Topic

    see all

    Recent Posts