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A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on the 2024 Juneteenth Day of Observance

Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally received word that they were legally free. Juneteenth is a time to reflect on and celebrate the courage, strength, and bravery of African Americans who fought for freedom and in doing so brought this country closer to our highest ideals of equality and justice for all.

As a descendant of enslaved persons and Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), I am keenly aware that the centuries-long struggle for freedom and equality for African Americans that we commemorate on Juneteenth is not finished. This Juneteenth comes just two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which created the EEOC and provided long overdue legal protections against racial discrimination. Generations of Black Americans fought for the rights that are enshrined in the Civil Rights Act. Since the EEOC opened in 1965, we have taken seriously our mission of advancing equal opportunity in our nation’s workplaces and have won significant victories for Black workers and many other victims of discrimination.

Sixty years after the Civil Rights Act and nearly 160 years after federal troops arrived in Galveston, the EEOC continues to combat incidents of discrimination and harassment based on race and color, a reminder of the deep-rooted injustices that remain in the workplace and beyond. The EEOC’s resolved lawsuits so far in 2024 include a delivery company that assigned its Black employees to routes in neighborhoods with higher crime rates compared to those assigned to its white drivers and segregated its Black and white employees. These lawsuits also include a fast food franchise that our investigation found had instructed its general manager not to hire Black employees and to fire employees who were or appeared to be Black, and a medical testing supply company that fired a Black employee because of her natural hair texture.

Challenges remain as we work to overcome the enduring effects of this nation’s legacy of slavery, racism, and injustice. The EEOC continues to do our part by vigorously enforcing federal laws against workplace discrimination. This Juneteenth, and every day, I’m honored to lead an agency that strives to fulfill our nation’s promise of equality and justice for all.

Charlotte A. Burrows (she/her/hers)


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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