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Juneteenth represents hope

Juneteenth represents hope

Holiday commemorating emancipation relates directly to credit unions and financial well-being.

When TreVaughn Allen began his position as operations coordinator at the African American Credit Union Coalition in 2022, among his first assignments was creating a one-page information sheet on the history of the Juneteenth holiday.

Allen says he learned some valuable lessons in developing this resource, which was used as the basis of a presentation at the Carolinas Credit Union League’s 2022 Annual Meeting.

“It represents hope that we can overcome our circumstances if we persevere,” Allen says.

That message resonates with Allen. Raised in an impoverished neighborhood in Washington, D.C., Allen rose above his circumstances to attend Jackson State University, earning academic and band scholarships.

“I didn’t let my circumstances define who I was,” he says.

While Juneteenth is a relatively new holiday to many Americans, it’s the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.

Celebrated each year on June 19, Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure all enslaved people were freed. The troops’ arrival came more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

That two-year delay is significant, says Nathan Cox, president/CEO at $355 million asset InRoads Credit Union in St. Helens, Ore.

“Congress ratified the end of slavery in January 1865, and it wasn't until June 1865 when the last Confederate regiment actually released the slaves,” he explains. “December 1865 is when everything was formally ratified. That time frame is important for people to understand.”

Cox says the significance of Juneteenth relates directly to credit unions and financial well-being.

“We’ve all heard the term ’40 acres and mule,’” he says. “The freed slaves weren’t able to start building generational wealth until that two-year period ended when those troops arrived.”

To this day, building generational wealth remains a challenge for many Black families, Cox notes, making access to financial education critical. “It’s important that we as leaders, especially those in the C-suite, have the appropriate mechanisms to allow people to have access to wealth.”

For his part, Allen is heartened that Americans’ recognition of Juneteenth increased to 59% in 2022 from 37% in 2021, according to Gallup. “Juneteenth is where diversity, equity, and inclusion start.”

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Source : CUNA

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