June 19, or Juneteenth, marks the annual observance celebrating the date that Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing those who were still enslaved in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.  Effective this week, Juneteenth has been designated a federal holiday, as President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by both chambers of the United States Congress this week that will designate June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a proclamation earlier this month, encouraging people to observe Juneteenth “as an opportunity to reflect, rejoice, and plan for a brighter future as we continue to address racial injustices in our society today.”  In the proclamation, Gov. Cooper proclaimed June 19, 2021, as “Juneteenth Day” in North Carolina, and commended its observance to all citizens.

During the United States Civil War, Texas was the final state acting in rebellion.  Union General Gordon Granger came to Galveston and issued General Order #3 on June 19, 1865, freeing those who were still, to that point, enslaved, despite the Emancipation Proclamation coming into effect nearly two and a half years earlier.

Even prior to the legislation passing, many North Carolina companies planned to observe Juneteenth, and WRAL TechWire asked how.



“In light of the new legislation proclaiming Juneteenth a Federal holiday, SAS has added an additional floating holiday for employees to use when and how they choose to reflect and celebrate,” said a spokesperson for SAS.  “We encourage all to be curious and ask difficult questions.  Learning from the past, we can create a better, more equitable and inclusive future.”



Friday, June 18, 2021, is a paid holiday for all Lenovo US-based employees in honor and observance of Juneteenth, as June 19 falls on a Saturday.

“This paid holiday was instituted at Lenovo last year, and we encourage our employees to spend the day learning more about the historical relevance of this day and serving their local community,” said a spokesperson for Lenovo in responding to WRAL TechWire’s request.

“Additionally, our Black Leaders Achieve Success in Technology (BLAST) employee resource group hosted a webinar open to all US-based Lenovo employees on Thursday, June 17. This event featured a panel of BLAST leaders and Dr. Blair Kelley, Assistant Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies and International Programs and Associate Professor of History at NC State, discussing the importance of Juneteenth.”

According to the company, it also provided employees with a list of resources as to how they can celebrate the day and give back to their local community. For example, Lenovo offers its employees a 100% matching gift benefit of eligible charitable payroll deductions should employees feel inclined to make a charitable donation to the organization of their choice, in honor or observation of Juneteenth.



“We have been running internal events for our Black community and allies,” said Carrie Bendzsa, a spokesperson for IBM Americas.  “These have been well attended.”

IBM’s work and actions come through our Emb(RACE) program, and Carla Grant Pickens, IBM Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, leads the organization’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Emb(race) is both a call to action and organizing principle that began with a pledge empowering IBM and IBMers to call for change to ensure racial equality,” wrote Grant Pickens in a blog post published on June 1.  “The campaign has become one of the most significant catalysts for coalescing IBMers around the most urgent priorities where our technology and platforms can address issues of bias, racism, and social injustice across race and ethnically diverse communities.”

“Employees with various race and ethnic groups want solidarity, allyship and social justice and employers should aim to build an inclusive workplace culture – one that fosters accountability,” Grant Pickens continued.  “Race Equity should make diverse employees feel psychologically safe in the work environment and that they are treated the same as anyone else in the workplace.”


Red Hat

According to a spokesperson for Red Hat, the company decided to give its U.S.-based associates the ability to take Friday, June 18, off from work, without submitting personal time off, in order to honor or participate in Juneteenth activities, following the federal government’s decision to declare the day a national holiday.

“To recognize and celebrate Juneteenth, Red Hat’s BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership & Diversity) DEI community hosted an educational seminar and discussion on Abolition and Transformative Justice,” a spokesperson told WRAL TechWire.  “The event featured Katie Leonard, who currently serves as Special Advisor to the Dean and Activist-in-Residence at Colorado University Denver College of Arts & Media.”


Wireless Research Center

According to Gerard Hayes, the president of the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina, each of the organizations associated with the Center, including RIoT, AMC, and Connected Communities honor and celebrate Juneteenth.  “In 2021, we observe the holiday on June 18,” noted Hayes.



As a company, IEM is recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday, said a spokesperson for the company.  The founder, CEO, and president, Madhu Beriwal, also sent a company-wide email yesterday, that was shared with WRAL TechWire and is quoted below.

“Today, is a historical day. President Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Also known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, this important milestone recognizes our nation’s history and celebrates the freedom of African American slaves. IEM supports the creation of this new federal holiday and upholds IEMers’ right to commemorate it.”

“In observing this day, we reflect on our nation’s past, acknowledge the freedoms that all Americans are entitled to regardless of race or background, and look to the future to create a more inclusive, equitable, and resilient future. Although this is a new federal holiday, and one many of us may not have celebrated before, I hope you can find time over the coming days to reflect on its significance, the history and culture of African Americans, and the advancements, discoveries and achievements of African Americans that have contributed to the history, culture and social fabric of our nation.”



“We have been recognizing and honoring Juneteenth for the past two years,” said James Collins, the chair of the diversity and racial equity (DARE) employee resource group at Abrigo.

The company held a company meeting and session on June 17 that included a video and a Q&A period, and recognizes June 19 as a company holiday.

“On June 22nd, we will have a live presentation from a uniquely Texas perspective on Juneteenth with Michael Hurd Hi, an author, historian, and since 2015, the director of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University,” added Collins.


Statement from the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources

According to the website for The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources:

“The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources affirms the observance of Juneteenth as an opportunity to recognize the historic pain and tragedies caused by racial inequity and to promote equity and equal opportunity among state employees.

To support and celebrate the cultural diversity of our communities, and to lend a hand and lift up neighbors in need, we remind state employees that they are provided paid Community Service Leave to volunteer at nonprofits and community-based organizations. OHSR collaborated with VolunteerNC, Activate Good, and others to create a partial list of organizations that provide social justice-related outreach to clients.

While Juneteenth is observed on Saturday, June 19, we encourage all state employees to dedicate a few workday hours in June to benefit nonprofits that seek to effect change in racial equity.”



“First and foremost, we care deeply about taking care of our internal team,” said Jenny Maze, COO of Quinsite.  “We build in as much awareness for them as they’re whole human beings, not just Quinsite workers.”  People are people first, noted Maze, and the company approaches all relationships it forms as relationships with people first, recognizing an individual’s autonomy and agency.

The company, which Maze described as a small business, added Juneteenth as a company holiday earlier this year.  “We have a unique opportunity as business owners, and leaders, to amplify the voices of those who are still struggling for equality and equity,” said Maze.  “We want to celebrate the meaning of Juneteenth and the emancipation of slaves, but importantly, to also amplify voices in recognition that we still have very far to go.”