Illumina Commemorates Juneteenth

Jun 18, 2021 6:15 PM ET
Campaign: People

"Put aside your guilt, and I'll put aside my anger, and we have a chance to learn from each other" -– Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were finally told they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free. This day has continued to be celebrated among Black and African American communities since 1866 as a symbol of our journey forward to becoming a nation where all of us live in freedom and equality. Now, 156 years later, US Congress proposed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, and it was signed into law by President Biden!

Federal designation is a significant milestone, both acknowledging the horrors of slavery and the transformative heritage of emancipation. We encourage everyone to celebrate this day of freedom by remembering our nation’s legacy of civil rights and the call for continued advocacy and healing.

While we wish that June 1865 could have secured the end to racial tension, we know all too well that racism, social oppression, hate and intolerance are still alive in our world. Recent injustices against the Black and African American community remind us, like echoes reverberating from the past, that living free but not equal is the experience of many. Living free but not equal is not an exception, it is too often the rule. Wisely, Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, nor an acceptance of the way things are. Instead, it's a celebration of progress. It's an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, things do get better. We can practice tolerance and empathy—we can change.

Illumina is commemorating Juneteenth by presenting two special events hosted by our BE GREAT employee resource group and the Diversity, Inclusion and Fairness team. Jimmie Lee and De Kirkpatrick joined us on June 16, and will return on June 24, to share their incredible story of discovery, forgiveness and healing. We are also highlighting a giving opportunity for employees to donate to several nonprofits that are helping preserve and celebrate African American culture and promote a more equitable and peaceful world. Those donations will be matched through the Illumina Corporate Foundation match program.