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Celebrating Juneteenth: 2 Employees Share Their Perspective

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Two years ago, Juneteenth became a U.S. federal holiday. This year marks the first recognition of Juneteenth as an official Intel holiday in the U.S.

Juneteenth marks the United States’ second Independence Day. It is a history that remains largely unknown to many Americans, but it has long been celebrated by African Americans. 

Although the Emancipation Proclamation granted enslaved people in the U.S. freedom in 1863, some were not freed until more than two years later. On June 19, 1865, troops finally arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to inform the state’s 250,000 enslaved people that they were free.  

To celebrate Juneteenth, consider taking part in an event, spending time with family and friends or educating yourself on the full history of the day. Hear from two Intel colleagues about their Juneteenth journey and what the day means to them. 

  

Mike Rouse III 
Solutions Engineer for Data Tech Integration
I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I learned about Juneteenth and many other historical events at an early age. It wasn’t until I left Chicago and went to college that I realized many others never knew about Juneteenth and the history of Africans and African Americans in this country.

Juneteenth gained a lot of attention after the social justice movements in 2020. For me, the significance of Juneteenth has always been about the power of and access to knowledge. The free men and women of Galveston Bay, Texas, didn’t know they were free because they did not have access to that knowledge.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it (and, unfortunately, so much of history is hidden or forgotten). Although we often think of Juneteenth as a celebration of that knowledge, I think of it as a clarion call that everyone is still fighting for freedoms granted only to a few people.

My family celebrates Juneteenth by gathering and relaxing. We cook, play games and enjoy the weather. At our family’s celebration, you must share a piece of history that not many know before you can get your plate of food. It is a fun way to challenge people to learn and research essential parts of our history. A person without history will be lost in the present. Juneteenth is a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to provide access and the power of knowledge to all. 

 

Timothy Ballenger 
Technology and Engineering Diversity Partner
Growing up in East Texas, it seemed like my family was the only Black family in the state that did not celebrate Juneteenth. Why? My grandfather forbade it. He was offended that it took two years for word about the Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people in Texas. He felt we should recognize the actual emancipation date (Jan. 1st, 1863) or America’s independence on July 4th. He saw Juneteenth as an insult to his intelligence.

With all due respect to my grandfather who passed away before I was born, I disagree. While enslaved people may have technically been free for nearly two years, the date is material and meaningful.  

For many people throughout the United States, Juneteenth is a very festive time that includes church services, block parties, volunteering and community service. For years, my family had a tradition of coming together to clean the cemetery that holds our ancestors’ burial plots.

To me, Juneteenth represents the broad spectrum of perspectives and realities that 

exist in America. Juneteenth symbolizes the fact that there isn’t one shared experience in this country —  

quite the opposite in fact.

The American quilt includes many diverse, complex, and intricate patches that are concurrently 

interconnected, disparate, and distinct. I encourage everyone to be lifelong students, forever hungry to learn about each other and our unique experiences.

Happy Juneteenth!

1 Comment
AnouchkaGaillard
Beginner

Many thanks Timothy and Mike for sharing your stories. I heard your call for action and continuous learning. I am proud that Intel supports this initiative.

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