Juneteenth 2021

Juneteenth, an observed holiday in the State of Missouri and in almost every state in this country, has evolved as a celebration since its origin in June 19,1865, when the enslaved people of Galveston,Texas, learned they were free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

From its origins in Texas, a rich variety of ways have developed to mark the meaning of the day and to assure that its message of freedom and hope are embraced and celebrated. With family, friends, and community, we can choose to come together with a festive spirit to increase the depth of our commitment to each other as we celebrate the significance of Juneteenth.

Last year Webster led the way for June 19 as a day off for each member of our community to celebrate in individual ways. While we wish to mirror what often happens in many communities, including St. Louis, San Antonio, Charleston, Orlando, and many others, to bring people together for parades, live music, interfaith meditations, storytelling, cookouts, and teach-ins, those activities await a future time and the opportunity to coordinate worldwide across the Webster campuses everywhere. In Fall of 2021, we will organize and charge a task group to help us prepare for 2022.

This winter and spring we had anticipated that we would participate in a Juneteenth Worldwide Youth Summit on the topic of Climate Change hosted by our partners at the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network. At this moment, those plans are uncertain.

As a result, this year we will organize several Juneteenth activities for the week of June 14 for the Webster community that provide context on the history of Juneteenth, emphasize celebration, and reflect about its meaning for individuals from our community. At the same time, we are assembling a calendar of Juneteenth events happening in the St. Louis region, and will invite our community to provide support for the Webster-Rock Hills Ministries initiative to fund swim passes for area children. We urge each Webster campus to participate in local in-person or virtual gatherings as they are available.

Cheryl Fritz, Webster’s chief human resources officer, will lead the team organizing these activities. Please contact her at 314-246-7580 to volunteer.

Regarding the status of Juneteenth 2021 as a paid staff holiday for this year, the decision has been made: Friday, June 18, will be a paid staff holiday for U.S. employees, adding one day to the two “floating personal days” added beginning in June. As Webster has always led the way in providing meaningful conversation and learning that expand our commitments to our core values, we make this decision in that spirit on behalf of our entire community.

As we look ahead to 2022, we will organize to create a meaningful way for our community to commemorate Juneteenth, while monitoring the legislative conversations regarding Juneteenth’s celebration as a federal holiday.

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