Honoring Juneteenth and Windrush Day

Graphic of TIA's Global Day of Learning

Juneteenth, which has been called, “America’s second Independence Day,” commemorates the freedom of enslaved African Americans in Texas in 1865. Given the significance this day holds for so many people across the United States and beyond, I was encouraged by Congress’ commitment last year to establish a federal holiday to honor Juneteenth.

Similarly, I am encouraged by the increased awareness around Windrush Day, which recognizes the first cohort of migrants from the Caribbean to London in 1948. These immigrants helped fill a labor shortage after World War II and were faced with extreme intolerance while doing so.

Honoring these profound anniversaries allows us to reflect on the sacrifices of those before us, recognize the progress that has been made – while more work remains – and reminds us of the need for collective action in pushing hard for social and racial justice as we continue to witness intolerance and acts of violence against Black and other marginalized communities.

As the new global head of diversity at Adobe, overseeing diversity talent acquisition, and D&I programming, I am energized by our company’s commitment to gender and racial equity and diverse representation. I have the honor of joining the Taking Action Initiative (TAI) as a steering committee member and will help drive progress aligned to TAI’s mission to accelerate the representation and success of Adobe’s Black employees, while creating change in the broader landscape of social injustice.

Global day of learning in honor of Juneteenth and Windrush Day

This year, TAI will host a Global Day of Learning to honor Juneteenth (June 19) and Windrush Day (June 22). On June 20, Adobe employees globally will come together to learn about Black history, the experience of Black employees, and how allies can support their colleagues.

We are honored to have Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), as a guest speaker to share how we can all create spaces to address the legacy of slavery and racial injustice. EJI is one of the eleven organizations Adobe is partnering with as part of our Equity and Advancement Initiative committed to advancing social justice.

Following that conversation, we will host a discussion with Dr. Jessica B. Harris, the award-winning culinary historian and author of cookbooks documenting foods of the African diaspora. Dr. Harris will explore the freedom that comes from making healthy choices and building wealth to create a higher quality of life for generations to come.

In July, we will host a fireside chat in EMEA with Afropean (African + European) entrepreneur Nana Addison, in recognition of Windrush Day. Nana Addison will discuss what it means to be a “cultural architect” including tips for inclusive language and ways to speak with individuals of different backgrounds.

To help expand perspectives employee storyteller Chris Lambert shares his personal connection to the experience of the Windrush generation in the U.K. and Vic Ontchya Areno shares his journey to integrate his unique identities as part of the global Black community.

We are grateful for TAI’s dedication to designing a Global Day of Learning to help expand our understanding about the experience of Black people in our society and provide actions to drive systemic change.

Generational health and wealth

One of the key themes throughout the day will focus on the impact of generational health and wealth on the success of marginalized communities. In many ways, President Lyndon Johnson issued a public call to action to improve generational health and wealth for the Black community during his commencement address at Howard University in 1965. In that speech, President Johnson articulated why opportunity alone was not enough to ensure the civil rights of Black Americans – and why the civil rights movement must encompass both legal and economic justice.  Since that speech, there certainly has been economic progress for the Black community, but the slow pace of progress has come at an economic toll for the United States.

A Citigroup report calculated the economic cost of discrimination against Black Americans in the past 20 years amounts to a $16 trillion loss for the U.S. economy. That’s an additional $16 trillion dollars that could exist in the U.S. economy through creating jobs, investing in businesses, supporting education, providing affordable housing, and more.  As a corporate citizen committed to making a positive impact in today’s world, Adobe has an important role to play in addressing this. To help drive systemic change, we are committed to equipping our employees, collaborating with industry peers, and partnering with non-profit organizations through our Equity and Advancement Initiative.

Unifying Adobe employees

Our Global Day of Learning builds upon employee sessions we have hosted throughout the year to help educate allies on the Black experience. In recognition of Black History Month, our Black Employee Network (BEN) hosted an internal event with employee storytellers, musical performances, and conversation with artists; and facilitated a panel discussion on the beauty and history of Black hair. Additionally, we hosted a conversation with CNBC anchor Jon Fortt about his in-depth learning series called The Black Experience in America: The Course.

Our ongoing employee engagement, including this year’s Global Day of Learning, demonstrates Adobe’s commitment to creating unifying moments for our employees – where we can come together to make a collective impact and see ourselves in each other. I look forward to hearing from our guest speakers next week, gaining new insights, and continuing to partner with D&I champions to create a sense of belonging for everyone.

And personally, I will take time to pause and reflect on the significance of Juneteenth and Windrush Day and the important role these anniversaries play in acknowledging the history of racial injustice and galvanizing us to build a society where everyone is treated equally and with respect.