Local 1000 Supports, Honors, and Celebrates Juneteenth

Article Published on June 9, 2023

On Monday, June 20, 2022, the SEIU Local 1000 African-American Committee and SEIU Local 1000 workers statewide will celebrate Juneteenth for the second time as a U.S. federal holiday.* Commemorating the end of slavery, this day is an opportunity to reflect on the power of liberation that continues to animate the work of anti-racism in America today.

When Juneteenth was made a holiday by the federal government in 2021, it had already been celebrated by Black communities for well over a century. The forces that have led social change in this country, from unions, community organizations, and political and moral advocates, working alongside the Congressional Black Caucus were able to pass a bill and make it law.

However, the organizers outside of Congress led a long fight for recognition for this momentous day. Lula Briggs Galloway of San Jose, a fierce advocate for Black history in America, had organized to build the African-American Heritage House, a community space and historical record dedicated to the heritage of African-Americans in Silicon Valley. She played an integral role in raising awareness about the history of Juneteenth and led supporters to call on the government to take action.

When Dr. Opal Lee, a tireless organizer for justice, got involved in the fight to recognize Juneteenth, she knew she needed to bring attention to the issue with a major event. At the age of 89, she led a march to Washington to deliver the demand to then-President Barack Obama. “It’s going to be a national holiday,” said Dr. Lee, “I have no doubt about it. My point is let’s make it a holiday in my lifetime”

Ultimately, history would prove her right. She was 94 years old when Juneteenth was made a federal holiday, and the Opal’s Walk Campaign started as an initiative to make Juneteenth a National Holiday, continues every year to celebrate her achievement. Held on Juneteenth, it celebrates the life and initiative of a woman committed to making history and fighting for justice.

We invite you to join us in commemorating this momentous occasion by sending your Juneteenth photos to photos@seiu1000.org

*Because Juneteenth was not a holiday when we negotiated our last contract, it is not a day off for state workers this year. However, we hope to correct that by 2023.