As we approach the Juneteenth commemoration of black Americans' emancipation from slavery, companies across the U.S. and Congress have moved to declare Juneteenth an official holiday. It is a right and fitting initiative, and that is why Ullico had already made Juneteenth an employee holiday to be marked this year on Friday, June 18.
Since the first Juneteenth in 1865, then known as "Freedom Day," there have been 156 years of struggle and strife to make freedom real. Acknowledging the date is important, but only one step.
The struggle continues today as we fight to make the right to vote an easy, free and fair exercise that is the foundation of our country. It continues as we struggle to reckon with our nation's history without denying the brutal bigotry that too often occurred and continues. And the fight goes on as we seek to root out systemic forms of discrimination that have blocked opportunity for generations of black citizens.
At Ullico, as the only union-owned insurance and investment company in America, we will never stop our march forward toward racial, social and economic justice for all working people.
On this holiday, let us all unite and let us together say the words "black lives matter" with understanding and dedication to the cause so that the day does come when we live out the true meaning of our nation's stated creed - that all are created equal.
Edward M. Smith
President and CEO of Ullico Inc. and Laborers' International Union Local 773 Member