Editor’s note: This article was collectively written and reviewed by members of Technically Media’s leadership team.
This June 19, for the first time, Technically Media — the Philadelphia-based publisher of Technical.ly and Generocity — is celebrating Juneteenth as a permanent, paid company holiday. Our (virtual) office will be closed, and our news sites will not be publishing.
Juneteenth has long been celebrated by Black communities in the U.S. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general in Galveston, Texas, read a federal order that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation formally ended slavery in the country. Yet it is significant that it took these two years for the message to finally reach the western-most parts of the country, where Black people continued to be held in bondage compared to their counterparts in the eastern-most states. This moment of “freedom” was not experienced simultaneously by all enslaved people. That uneven access to freedom is a recurring sin of our country.
The recognition of Juneteenth brings wider awareness to this historic milestone. Crucial elements of Black history continue to be omitted from formal education at all levels. Public and privately held companies that acknowledge this day provide an opportunity for all people to become exposed to and understand the significance.
Both as a company and in our coverage, we at Technically Media aim to promote building better companies. Though some employers — from Nike to the City of Wilmington — are increasingly recognizing this day, it is still rare, and it feels like a small contribution we can add as a company to celebrating the Black experience. We must participate.
We have talked about adding Juneteenth as a holiday in the past, as many of our teammates have long celebrated it, but we never moved quickly enough or prioritized it amid changes to our policies as we’ve grown our organization. This was a mistake.
So why now?
We announced this new policy internally on Monday, June 15. When considering whether to do so, CEO Chris Wink put the question to our leadership team, asking if it could seem inappropriately reactive to add the holiday this year, during the high-profile national conversation about systemic racism and just days before the holiday. VP Vincent Better, our next highest-ranking company leader and a longtime volunteer with Philly’s Juneteenth parade and festival organizing committee, quipped: “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.”
Too, as a still-small, still-young organization, we are regularly adding new policies and improvements to make Technically Media a better place to work, and to represent our team and the communities we serve. For example, in recent years, we have grown our PTO offering, added a 401k match and improved parental leave time. We have always committed to continuous growth and improvement in these ways, and solicited feedback from our team. It’s the expectation we have for our organization, and the same mindset our newsroom takes to reporting on other companies.
Editorially, we will see it as a chance to offer education to our readers, which we have also been doing with our Racial Equity Month coverage these past few weeks (previously planned, but unpredictably salient for the moment) as well as our years of reporting on inequities in local tech communities. But we will also pause our publishing this Friday to give all of our teammates the opportunity to commemorate the holiday, whether that be by participating in cultural celebrations, learning more about slavery abolition, or assessing where we have been as a country and how we are contributing today as a company and as individuals.
Collectively, we aim to make it an active part of how America’s whole history is taught.