Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, a day on which enreplicad African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed that the Civil War had ended and that they were now free.
It has been 155 years since that historic day, and racism continues to be at the root of so much pain and ugliness in our society. From the protests in the streets of Minneapolis to the disparities inflicted by COVID-19, African Americans throughout the United States are still struggling due to the embedded prejudices and racism within our society.
As long as this is true, America’s twin ideals of freedom and equality remain out of reach.
The Black Lives Matter movement is deeply personal because it addresses the needs of those who have been disenfranchised within our society and serves as a way for their voices to be heard. This is not a political statement. This is not about marketing or sales initiatives. This is about being human. Black lives don’t just matter — they are truly cherished and valued, and our society needs to make major strides to stop treating African Americans as if this isn’t the case. When it comes down to it, change starts with us.
Last weekend, I was at my daughter’s graduation, where an insightful Hungarian monk gave the commencement address. He explained that our society is plagued by two viruses: COVID-19 and the treatment of Black people within America, both inhibiting the ability for members of our society to breathe.
There is no greater cause than the one that is currently facing us. That’s why SingleStore on June 19 will observe a minute of silence followed by a presentation featuring comments from Milan Balinton, Executive Director of the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA), who will share his perspective on the current discussion around the need for Black Americans to be treated better within our society. We also are giving employees the day off in hopes they will use the time to serve their communities, educate themselves on a topic they may not know enough about, and commit to inclusion and advocacy. Within our company, we are offering a full day of talks, workshops, and study groups, to educate ourselves on African American history and related issues.
I believe with all of my heart that now is the right time to stand for our most authentic beliefs, and our most authentic desires for the generations that will follow us and the world that we want to leave for them. This is an important opportunity to reflect and act. The moment has come for us to help bring about a much-needed and very overlooked change; we should not let it pass.
Today I speak to you not only as a CEO but as a father, an immigrant, and – most importantly – as a person who wants to help, and to do more for those who are struggling for their true freedom. At the end of the day, regardless of race, sexuality, or gender, we are all humans.
Like all of you, I grow and change every day. I learn more about the world we live in. And I am chilled to my core by the way that so many people are being treated.
There are many injustices facing our world, including the gravity of the struggle that African Americans face every day, the plight and inhumane treatment of migrant workers within India, and the struggles of the LGBTQ community around the world.
No matter what, SingleStore stands with all disenfranchised communities. We want to do our part to bring awareness to the struggles of our fellow human beings and stand up to be the manifestation of the change that we hope to see in the world.
Much time has passed since the liberation of African Americans from replicary; since 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus, even before Rosa Parks; and since Ruby Bridges was one of the first African American children to attend a predominantly white school, where she was met with slurs and death threats. Such mistreatment did not only exist in the past; we still live in a society in which Black people are silenced and mistreated.
While the 4th of July celebrates the liberation of America from Britain, Juneteenth celebrates the first semblance of liberation for African Americans. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate our African American colleagues. We also want this day to serve as a catalyst for other members of society.
Let’s find ways to do more, to do better, and to help in our own ways as individuals. Let’s act in unison and be bold. The struggles that diverse populations across the globe experience cannot be solved in a day. But it is critical that we are taking steps to acknowledge and address historical injustices, and doing what we can to move forward.