Dear Friends and Colleagues,
In American schools, children are often taught that slavery began in the country that would ultimately become the United States back in 1619, when the first African slave ship landed in Virginia. They subsequently learn that this shameful practice continued until, in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves as of January 1, 1863. However, with the Civil War raging for over two more years, the last slaves in Texas were not freed until June 19, 1865, a date henceforth known as “Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth, a day of immense importance to African-American culture, has long been overdue for greater national recognition. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate (unanimously) and House of Representatives (by an overwhelming majority) approved a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, a bill signed into law by President Biden yesterday.
Today, Winterfeldt IP Group is honored to celebrate Juneteenth. Our commemoration of this important day began last June, when, at the height of unrest due to an escalating epidemic of violence against members of the Black community, we closed our offices for a day and a half to ensure our team members would have opportunities to participate in diversity and antiracist activities most meaningful to them. When we developed our 2021 holiday calendar near the end of a very challenging 2020, we decided to make Juneteenth a firm-closed holiday going forward. We are encouraged to see that the federal government is following suit, along with much of the country.
Since the terrible events of last spring and summer, our society has taken some small steps towards progress. Our country’s first female vice president, a Black and Indian woman, took office in January. George Floyd’s murderer was convicted on all counts. However, there is still so much work to be done in our country before true equality and equity are achieved. Systemic racism continues to run rampant. Our Black citizens lagging far behind in both income and wealth accumulation; a 2020 study showed that not much progress has been made since 1968, just a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation and employment discrimination. Members of the Black community continue to face violence and disproportionate targeting at the hands of law enforcement and are typically subjected to much harsher punishments for the same crimes. We must do better, as a society and as individuals.
Winterfeldt IP Group stands with its Black team members, clients, industry colleagues, and community members in our efforts to turn recent incremental improvements into remarkable, lasting change. If all of us work to develop actively antiracist attitudes, to call out those engaging in overt discrimination and microaggressions, and to create avenues for minority voices to be heard and appreciated, I believe we will be able to see such a notable change by the next time we celebrate Juneteenth in 2022.
Wishing each of you a day that encompasses both joy and thoughtful reflection.
Brian J. Winterfeldt
Founder & Principal
Winterfeldt IP Group, PLLC
For any questions or feedback on Winterfeldt IP Group, or discuss our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, please reach out to me at:
Brian Winterfeldt, firstname.lastname@example.org +1 202 903 4422