Rethinking Staff Holidays – Another Step in our Journey Toward Inclusion
We at River Network have tried to maintain transparency and open communication regarding the evolution of our work on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Being a network and a capacity-building organization, we take great pride in our approach to “learning in public” and sharing our ever-evolving thinking and processes related to EDI with our network. In recent weeks, members of River Network’s EDI committee reviewed and revised our employee benefits, suggesting changes that were adopted by the organization, officially recognizing holidays as part of an ongoing effort to make our work culture more inclusive.
This process has been informed by many perspectives, and is at its core a step in our continued efforts to be more inclusive by acknowledging the many holidays that we often overlook, and their historical origins. As a result, this year we will for the first time recognize Juneteenth (June 19), also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day,” as a holiday for all River Network staff. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when Union Soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed still-enslaved African Americans of the Emancipation Proclamation and their official freedom from slavery, two and a half years after the fact. This history has often been absent from the white dominant narrative. Recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday is a way of acknowledging that the July 4th holiday does not tell the full story of our country’s journey toward independence.
As part of our EDI journey, River Network is committed to learning and public acknowledgment of these issues as one small step in the right direction. We see this process of ground-truthing parts of our history as necessary to moving toward a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive world.
To learn more about Juneteenth, and how it is celebrated and commemorated, check out this list of resources compiled by River Network staff:
- The History of Juneteenth (Fresh Air)
- Stories of How Juneteenth Is Celebrated (New York Times)
- “Freedom is…” (New York Times)
- Resources from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
If you or your organization has additional resources related to Juneteenth that you’d like to share with the network, let us know and we’ll add them here.