Written by Richard Waring, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Juneteenth recognizes the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, commemorating the end of slavery in our nation. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, making it the first new national holiday since the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. Although recently designated as an official holiday, Juneteenth has been celebrated nationwide for the last 200+ years.
While the nation and many employers, including the Charleston Metro Chamber, now recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, it serves as a heightened opportunity to feel the immense power of our history, celebrate the progress that has been made and honestly evaluate the work that still needs to be done.
We acknowledge that there are badges of inequity that may never be erased. South Carolina has many opportunities for our region to improve and be more deliberate in the way sensitive issues concerning racial inequality and economic disparity are tackled.
I am honored to be a part of an organization that is committed to building a community for all to live, learn and earn. The Charleston Metro Chamber has pledged to be a thought leader in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. We have set forth a plan of action to provide minority businesses with opportunities to increase their education, access to resources and connections.
The Minority Business Accelerator directly addresses the lack of opportunity for smaller, minority owned businesses in South Carolina and provides tools and resources necessary for economic growth and prosperity. Other programs, such as our Diversity Leaders Certification, will help business leaders in our region better understand and address the needs of an ever-evolving workforce.
Sincere partnerships with leading organizations, such as Bank of America, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, SCRA and a host of others, assist us in confidently moving forward with our mission of initiating, advocating and empowering our region to advance a prosperous business environment.
So as we celebrate Juneteenth, I ask you to celebrate our nation’s progress and take some time to learn and engage in opportunities working towards an equitable community.