Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day in 1865 when slavery truly ended. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, declaring that all enslaved people under Confederate control would be forever free. Unfortunately, it didn’t instantly free all slaves and it didn’t apply to slaves in the border states that remained loyal to the Union. That freedom didn’t come until the end of the Civil War and the arrival of Juneteenth.

For lawyers, who put great stock in the power of words, Juneteenth is an important reminder that words must be supported by action.

MODERN DAY JUNETEENTH

Today, people across the U.S. commemorates Black freedom with Juneteenth celebrations, education, and reflection. Just this week, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. For the past two years, SWMW Law has closed its office in observance of Juneteenth, giving employees the opportunity to celebrate the end of slavery and to reflect on the future work we must do to end the systemic racism, prejudice and discrimination that still plagues our country to this day.

Our mission statement at SWMW Law is “Because People Matter,” and we are committed to doing all we can to live up to this statement every day. To further bolster our own words with action, the firm has additionally made a $2,500 donation to both the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The Black Repertory Company, because not only do people matter, Black Lives Matter.

We ask that you join us on Juneteenth to reflect upon the legacy of slavery in our country and all the work that remains to be done. And after that – take some action – because that is, after all, what Juneteenth is all about.