Stories and Viewpoints

Juneteenth: A Day for Remembrance, Progress and Hope

June 19, 2021

By Menassie Taddese, President, Emerging Markets


Juneteenth, an occasion commemorating the end of slavery and the day all people living in the U.S. were granted freedom, is a profound moment for reflecting on the nation’s history and bringing people together in the spirit of progress.


For those of you who aren’t familiar, Juneteenth, recognized annually on June 19, has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s. It marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free from slavery – more than two years after the signing of Emancipation Proclamation.


While Juneteenth is specific to the U.S., the struggles it acknowledges are not. Systematic racism and inequality are a battle that many around the globe have been fighting for generations.


As a Black man, dedicated father and leader, I spend a lot of time thinking about injustice and the ways we can inspire change. I believe Juneteenth can be an inflection point and is a powerful moment to honor and embrace the struggles of our past and present, and work toward a more equitable future.


Appropriately, Juneteenth is also known as “Freedom Day.” Not only is it a celebration of freedom, but one of opportunity, equality and hope. It takes on special meaning in our inaugural year at Viatris as we advocate for change and strive to build an inclusive community that celebrates the diverse backgrounds and experiences of all people. It’s with great pride that I lead the company’s Black Employee Resource Group in making a difference.


This Juneteenth, commit to being a part of change and take action. Learn about the rich history of Juneteenth. Speak up and learn from others’ experiences. Advocate for policies that promote equality. Get involved in your community. Together, we can inspire change for Black and marginalized people everywhere and honor the legacy that Juneteenth represents.

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