A year ago, June nineteenth went unrecognized by many people who were unaware that it commemorates the day the last slaves in the U.S. were told of their freedom when word finally reached Texas 30 months after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
But the recognition of the date has gained much more prominence as part of the current race equity revolution. This year, employees at Nike, Twitter and other corporations have the day off in observation; the Juneteenth flag is flying over the Wisconsin State Capitol for the first time in history, and several marches and rallies are planned for the day.
You know when a social change is taking place by observing the little things that are altered. In the span of less than a month, Band-Aid has announced that after 99 years of only making its product in white flesh tone, it is now committed to offering new products in a range of light, medium and dark blacks and browns. Quaker Oaks is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand after 131 years. Other brands, such as Uncle Ben’s Rice, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth have also committed to changing their imagery. Change happens slow, then it happens fast.
At one time, not that long ago, any of these changes would have been unthinkable. Hopefully, next year it will be equally unimaginable that most people fail to recognize this holiday and the history it represents.