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, was long overdue for greater national recognition. In 2021, 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 subsequently signed into law by President Biden.
Today, Winterfeldt IP Group is honored to celebrate Juneteenth. Our commemoration of this important day began in 2020, a year before Juneteenth was recognized as a national holiday, and we decided to make Juneteenth a firm-closed holiday going forward. We were encouraged to see that the federal government followed suit not long after, along with much of the country.
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 continue to lag far behind in both income and wealth accumulation, with little progress 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 a notable change by the next time we celebrate Juneteenth.
Wishing each of you a day that encompasses both joy and thoughtful reflection.
Brian J. Winterfeldt
Founder & Principal
Winterfeldt IP Group, PLLC