DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System has invited its 33,000 employees to participate in a virtual storytelling project to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday on Friday, June 19, 2020.
One of the oldest, yet not as familiar holidays in the U.S., it is the blending of the words “June” and “nineteenth” and marks the day in 1865 when Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX to share the news that the Civil War had ended and slavery had finally been abolished. It is believed that Gen. Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation – signed two years earlier by President Lincoln – to a group of African Americans that same day.
Henry Ford’s president and CEO, Wright Lassiter, III, said the system is committed to real, tangible change, especially in the wake of current events. “It has been such a tumultuous time in our nation. So many of us, including me, have experienced a range of emotions as we watch the grief, anger and disbelief manifest in ongoing civil unrest, including here in our own communities. Watching these moments, I find myself searching for glimmers of hope – signs of meaningful change in what I’ve recently referred to as the pervasive phenomenon of intolerance and indifference to racial injustice and inequality.”
Beginning Friday, team members from the across the six hospital system will be encouraged to post videos, written stories and comments on the system’s intranet site as a way to support the national conversation.
“As I mentioned in my message to our employees a few weeks ago, I believe wholeheartedly that as we explore our differences with authenticity and compassion, we can truly evolve, not just as an organization, but as a nation that embraces its diversity as sacred and beautiful. One of the ways we can do this is to keep this crucial conversation going.”
Juneteenth is also known by other names including Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Emancipation Day. While nearly all states have some limited recognition, there are renewed calls to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Until then, Lassiter said the health system is proudly joining a growing list of organizations who will honor the holiday.