Today, JCPenney is thrilled to celebrate Juneteenth in support of our Black associates and customers. We announced earlier this week that today will be the first annual Juneteenth Company holiday for JCPenney, and we hope observing this important day enables our associates to celebrate racial diversity by taking time celebrate, honor, and act. Hourly associates working to serve our customers today will receive additional holiday pay.
We understand the historical and cultural significance of this holiday might be new to some, so we developed some FAQs to help educate our associates and customers on the importance of the holiday:
Q: What is Juneteenth?
A: Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people learned they were free as word of the end of the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas. The 1865 date is largely symbolic. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, had legally freed slaves in Texas on January 1, 1863, almost 21⁄2 years earlier. However, Texas did not enforce the proclamation and remained a Confederate state until 1865 when Robert E. Lee finally surrendered to the Union Army.
Q: Why did JCPenney decide to make Juneteenth a holiday?
A: On June 3, we promised to take the time needed to learn how we can make lasting change as a Company. As we continue to build a diverse and inclusive team of associates and support the communities we serve, we believe it’s important to reflect on how we can move forward and achieve permanent and lasting change.
Q: Is Juneteenth a Federal holiday?
A: No. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth officially became a Texas state holiday making Texas the first state to grant this emancipation celebration. Since then, 45 other states and the District of Columbia have also commemorated or recognized the day.
Q: What are typical Juneteenth activities?
A: Community-centric events, such as parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, historical and cultural readings, and musical performances are a few ways to observe the holiday. Individuals and families have the opportunity to embrace this holiday and commit to learning more about Juneteenth and racial diversity.
Q: What could I do to observe the holiday?
A: Celebrate, honor, and take action by:
- Attending a local or virtual Juneteenth parade and/or celebration
- Watching a video on Juneteenth, or reading an article or book, such as “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo or “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
- Engaging your family, friends, and neighbors in conversations about racial diversity
- Taking personal time to reflect then look forward with a plan for how you will address racial diversity
Today, may this pause for joy and celebration give strength along the journey.