Jun 18, 2021

Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Employees celebrate Juneteenth

Graphic celebrating Juneteenth, Freedom Day 2021

We all have different paths in life. Our paths, tied to our heritage, culture and experiences, shape who we are and make us uniquely ourselves. PPL’s Walk a Mile in My Shoes blog series highlights the uniqueness of our employees so we can build understanding, encourage compassion and foster a culture of inclusion and belonging at PPL and in the communities we serve.

In this installment, PPL employees Devora Minnifield and Marie Bundy Golson share their perspectives on Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Devora and Marie are facilitating PPL’s Juneteenth celebration, which consists of a round table discussion and sharing of perspectives on the relevance of Juneteenth.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery in the United States. However, this declaration to free the enslaved could not be enforced by states still under Confederate control. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered – and almost 2 ½ years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 18, President Joe Biden signed a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday.

Devora Minnifield, supervisor of quality vendor management – PPL Electric Utilities

Juneteenth Graphic with quote from PPL Employee Devora Minnifield and a picture of her family

Juneteenth is referred to as “Freedom Day” or “Jubilee day” throughout the African American community. This year’s celebration marks 156 years from the end of slavery, but many African Americans are still dealing with systemic racism and injustices in employment, income, healthcare, education and housing.

Juneteenth is a day of reflection and awareness. I encourage all to use this day, and every day in between, as an opportunity to educate ourselves and those around us about the history of Black Americans.

In my home, we not only celebrate on Juneteenth, but we also make a conscious and intentional effort to support our community through donations and volunteerism throughout the year. We donate to organizations aimed at improving the lives of people of color and try to seek out and support African American owned businesses. Last year, we organized an intimate virtual Juneteenth cookout where we were able to connect with family, share our history, play games and drink red juice, which is symbolic of the bloodshed of the enslaved.

Juneteenth is a magnificent reminder of our progression since 1865, yet a painful reminder of the work still to be done to fulfill the idea that “all men are created equal.” Let us remember that the celebration of Juneteenth transcends race and ethnicity – it should be celebrated on the genuine belief that every American should have the right to freedom, equality and liberty.

Marie Bundy Golson, senior events analysis lead – PPL Electric Utilities

Juneteenth Graphic of Marie Bundy Golson with a quote

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate the independence not just from slavery, but the beautiful, unique and fabulous achievements that shape our lives. Growing up, and throughout most of my adult life, I was not aware of Juneteenth and its historical significance. It wasn’t until 2003 when I had the privilege of joining The Links, Incorporated, one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. My inaugural event was a Juneteenth celebration and I have been celebrating Juneteenth ever since. This year, I am leading our chapter’s virtual celebration, which will include music, entertainment and inspiration.

Having always admired the accomplishments of African Americans, Juneteenth provides a specific platform to highlight these achievements against the backdrop of emancipation. I am humbled by how far African Americans have come, given that we are only a few generations away from slavery. For me, the most important element to this celebration is honoring the past and emphasizing investment in future generations. Specifically, I participate as a mentor for the National Society of Black Engineers, Jr., volunteer at schools in my community and support scholarship fundraising efforts for young, diverse students.

We must never forget from where we have come to truly appreciate our achievements of today and tomorrow.

To learn more about Juneteenth, visit: https://juneteenth.com/