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Observations and Commentary from Dan Perkins
Some Post-Juneteenth Reflections for American Businesses
This month marked the second year America commemorated Juneteenth as a national holiday; and I find it exciting to see the holiday take its rightful place in our land. As I see it, Juneteenth is an essential American holiday because it demands more than national celebration, it requires consideration of the nature and meaning of FREEDOM. Juneteenth reminds all Americans of the intersections of three important markers in our nation’s history:
1) the darkness of freedom denied [Slavery];
2) the cost of freedom attained [American Civil War]; and
3) the joys of freedom acquired and sustained [Emancipation and beyond].
I find it exciting to observe the lessons each marker offers as they take hold in the consciousness of many Americans. Clearly, freedom in America is not guaranteed, nor is it ever free. Freedom is precious and sacred and worthy of reflection and celebration.
While most federal and state workers had the day off, many private sector entities were still trying to figure out appropriate ways to recognize the holiday. Some companies joined the government sector in giving their employees the day off with pay. Other companies devoted a portion of the day to assemblies where the significance of the holiday was discussed. Still other businesses encouraged their workers to devote the day to community service.
One thing few people want is for businesses to make Juneteenth a shopping holiday or a branding opportunity. Instead, some are calling upon businesses to establish the holiday as a time to engage with the African American community, from businesses to cultural institutions to churches and schools. I find myself joining this chorus.
As a supplier diversity consultant, I think Juneteenth would be an excellent day for major corporations to host events where their Black suppliers and contractors can join them in uplifting Black communities. Here in the Chicagoland area, it would be great to see major corporations and local businesses attend performances produced by Black theater companies, or dance troupes, or perhaps art exhibitions featuring works of established and emerging Black artists. Another possibility is for Black suppliers to join hospital staff in conducting health-awareness programs in under-served communities. It would be awesome to see suppliers and food companies provide meals to veterans, children with disabilities, and seniors in need. The possibilities are endless.
Our country is deeply divided at the present moment and sadly, some of the divisions are racially based. I think it would be incredible if Americans could come together on the issue of FREEDOM, SERVICE, and what it means to be an American.
Black Americans have given so much to this country since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; and there is much to celebrate, beginning with service to country and continuing with incredible contributions to sports and the arts. African Americans have also authored some amazing innovations — from peanut butter to the switches that traffic lights work to blood transfusions, and calculations that helped put American astronauts into space — to name just a few of the transforming wonders. Would it not be awesome to see companies everywhere set aside Juneteenth as a time to celebrate the many ways descendants of formerly enslaved people have helped build an economy that has been the envy of much of the world for nearly a century?
And, finally, here is perhaps the greatest reason to celebrate Juneteenth. When slavery was brought to an end, the formerly exploited people only wanted to build new lives for themselves with forty acres and a mule. Although they never received the land or a mule, or any compensation for their exploited labor and wretched conditions, they never sought to inflict retribution upon their abusers or society in general. Opportunity and access to resources is all they ever wanted or needed to build meaningful and productive lives. Despite decades of restricted access to education and resources, African Americans have made enormous strides forward. Our country has been blessed by the gentle and forgiving spirits of individuals formerly enslaved – which is too often overlooked in our consideration of race in America.
I think its high time we come together and celebrate the enormous blessings which FREEDOM FOR ALL has brought to our country. Let’s make Juneteenth not only an essential holiday (educational and beneficial in nature), but also a quintessential (defining) American holiday!
May God continue to refine our union and bless the United States of America.
Article by Dan Perkins, MCC Board Members and Communications Specialist
The MCC Board has launched a new initiative designed to provide financial assistance to MCC Members whenever situations of need or opportunity arise.
The idea was generated by news of a series of tragedy befalling a former MCC Board member. “We recognize we have an obligation to help our members Stand Up and Stand Tall whenever challenges or special situations come their way,” said Edwin Walker, president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Walker had shared news of the unfortunate events during the April MCC Board Meeting. Board Members responded by agreeing to establish a processing for making donations to aid MCC Members whenever needful situations present themselves. Generous members of the MCC Board agreed to have the donations flow through what they have labeled “The MCC Fund.”
The MCC Fund will be used to raise money for specific needs, and each need will be addressed through a specific campaign. “At some point in the future, a general campaign might be launched to ensure MCC has sufficient funds on hand to address unexpected situations in the future,” said Mr. Walker.
The first funding campaign is aimed at helping a former MCC Board Member whom, for the present time, is being referred to as “One Kool Kat.” The identity of “One Kool Kat” will remain a mystery in order to provide the recipient with an unexpected, but positive surprise.
“Our First Fund Recipient, served the MCC Board with distinction for many years, and is most deserving of the Chamber’s support after experiencing a string of unfortunate setbacks to both his family and business,” said Mr. Walker. “We believe the generosity of our Board Members, and others, will make a welcomed and positive difference for the recipient,” Walker added.
Anyone can contribute to the fund, and the MCC Board will be pleased to acknowledge each contribution and report on how it was used to help Our Members and Community Stand Tall and Stand for Good.
The Maywood Chamber of Commerce – We Stand Together!
Please consider making a contribution now by clicking the image below.