On June 17, 2021, legislation was signed into law making June 19 – Juneteenth – a federal holiday. Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Texas to share news of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, putting an end to slavery in the United States and freeing the last enslaved people. As the holiday falls on a Sunday this year, Fifth Third offices and banking centers will be closed June 20 in observance.
Stephanie A. Smith, chief inclusion and diversity officer, Fifth Third Bank, said recognizing Juneteenth is a step toward creating a more racially just and equitable organization and community. "As we honor the significance of the day, we are also committed to providing resources and a work environment that continues to foster conversations about inclusion and diversity."
Across the Bank’s 11-state footprint, during the week of June 13th, the Bank will engage in the following activities to honor Juneteenth:
- Members of the Chicago leadership team will participate in a panel discussion with the city treasurer’s office. Now in its third year, the event was established to discuss how local banks could advance equity and eliminate systemic racism in the banking industry.
- In Cincinnati, local professional artists will paint a mural wall featuring local Black community leaders at the Madisonville Bank branch.
- The Central Operations group in Cincinnati and Grand Rapids, Michigan, is hosting a week-long celebration that will feature a Black-owned business showcase, food trucks and employees from the African American Business Resource Center will wear Fifth Third Juneteenth T-shirts.
- In Indiana, Fifth Third is sponsoring the Macknificent Freedom Fest, Fort Wayne’s official Juneteenth celebration, connecting leaders and organizations that embody a collective approach to community welfare and events. This event supports the local Black community, its leaders and businesses.
- In Florida, the African American Business Resource Group (BRG) is hosting a statewide executive leadership chat featuring Shawn Welcome, content creator and performance poet. Employees have also been invited to attend Juneteenth celebrations in Tampa, Sarasota and Palm Beach.
- The Kentucky region’s African American BRG is sponsoring the Russell Place of Promise’s Juneteenth event to celebrate Black history, art and joy. The BRG is hosting an event for members that will feature panelists discussing their careers and the importance of Juneteenth.
- In North Carolina, an event is being organized by the region’s African American BRG where employees and their families will come together in fellowship at the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The event will provide an afternoon filled with live entertainment and gourmet, southern cuisine.
- In Tennessee, the Bank is sponsoring St. Jude’s annual Spirit of the Dream event, a celebration of the achievements of African Americans who embody the lifesaving mission of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
At the Bank’s headquarters in downtown Cincinnati, custom Juneteenth banners will be placed throughout the building’s atrium and an art showcase featuring the work of 10 local artists depicting African Americans’ freedom, history and joy will be on display. Lunchtime activities include local theater veteran Deondra Means singing spirituals and songs celebrating freedom, a mini-lecture and trivia game and additional musical entertainment will also be featured.
In addition, Fifth Third is the title sponsor of the third annual Juneteenth Block Party. The free and inclusive event balances celebration and education about the day. Paloozanoire, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of Midwestern Black professionals, is the organizer of the event that will feature entertainment, food, arts, connectivity activations, fireworks and more.
Western Michigan's African American BRG is hosting a gala to connect affinity groups across the area. The evening recognized inclusion and diversity leaders who have boldly shown unwavering commitment to making their organizations and the community more inclusive.
Eastern Michigan will offer Juneteenth T-shirts for purchase and hosted meetups for African American BRG members in Detroit.
In Evansville, Fifth Third is collaborating with the Evansville African American Museum for two events. The Bank is sponsoring the annual Juneteenth block party. Additionally, the Evansville Otters minor league baseball team is working with the Evansville African American Museum for a Salute to the Negro League before a regularly scheduled game. Players on both teams will wear reproduction uniforms of various teams, representing more than 60 teams, including the Evansville Giants and Indianapolis Clowns.
To learn more about Fifth Third Bank’s inclusion and diversity initiatives, please visit: www.53.com/diversity.