In dark moments, turn to light
Tyler Whipple, American Family inclusive excellence vice president, reflects on why this year, Juneteenth is more important than ever.
We might still be social distancing, but we can all sense the longer days and warmer temperatures. The aroma of backyard grills infuses the atmosphere, and there’s the murmur of neighbors working in their yards. These are just a few hallmarks of summer.
June marks the start of preparing for our summer celebrations. We normally would have endless parades, fairs and festivals that lead to the peak celebration – the Fourth of July. It is one of summer’s most iconic holidays – a day that represents the birth of our nation – free and independent.
July 4 reminds us of our common values of life, liberty and freedom. This year, however, we are reminded that not everyone is able to enjoy all these values equally.
However, in the darkest of moments, we seek light. This year, light comes from what appears to be a collective awakening and another commemorative day that recognizes the freedom, pride and significant contributions of a people.
Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” is a commemoration and celebration of the abolition of slavery and emancipation of slaves on June 19, 1865.
Juneteenth celebrations reinforce the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation, signed two-and-a-half years prior, did not bring immediate freedom to African American and black communities, but that true freedom and equality has been a protracted struggle lasting many generations. From the civil rights movement in the 1960s to the present day, we are still fighting for basic human rights and equality.
Ongoing tragic loss of innocent black lives has reinvigorated public outcry and demand to fix what’s broken in our society. This year, Juneteenth is more important than ever.
As daily reminders of inequality and injustice fill our screens, we are energized by the fact that while black Americans have fought for equality for 400 years, there is no sign of quitting and many others have joined the fight.
Across the American Family enterprise, we recognize that change begins with acknowledging our past and taking actions to build a better future.
Just a few of the ways we’ve initiated this groundwork:
- An unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
- Existing and new Business Resource Groups
- Creating the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.
And earlier this year, we commemorated a pivotal moment in Civil Rights history by sponsoring The March – a TIME Studios ground-breaking immersive project, which brought the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech to virtual reality.
This Juneteenth, stay safe and join me in seeking light.
About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance (formerly Ameriprise Auto & Home), The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.