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Juneteenth Spotlight: Morgan Stinson
Juneteenth is more than Black history — it’s American history. Which is why MGO wants to acknowledge and honor it: the anniversary of the day in 1865 when the last group of enslaved African Americans were freed by Union troops. To celebrate, we invited some of our team members to share their personal and family histories, experiences, and values rooted in their Black American identities. Morgan Stinson, Social Impact Manager and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative Leader, Los Angeles office What does Juneteenth mean to you? Is there anything you do to commemorate the day? If so, what? To me, Juneteenth represents the actual celebration of freedom for my ancestors and Black community here in America. Historically, it’s been the “forgotten” holiday to most communities — but it’s always been something my family has celebrated over the years. Before my grandmother passed away from COVID-19, we would gather for a barbeque to listen to the older members of the family share stories of our Black family history, dating all the way back to when my great-grandmother, Big Momma, was a slave. This was an important and impactful way for younger generation to learn about the history of our family, as well as Black history — the parts that were not taught in school curriculums. At the end of each celebration, my eldest aunt would gift each child a book curated by an African American author or a piece of art by a Black artist to commemorate and further educate us. What is a unique tradition you grew up with, and how do you feel it ties into your family history? The barbeque (above) was a big tradition. To add to that, from those stories I was told, I am now able to pass on our family history to my daughter and the next generation of my family. This will perpetuate our legacy, so we don’t lose the firsthand experiences, struggles, and successes our family faced throughout the years. My mother was one of the first African American children to integrate. My eldest aunt can recount picking cotton in the fields as a child labor-hand during the early days of African American mobility. My great uncle was one of the first Black blues and jazz players known around the world. All these stories are able to be shared for generations to come, creating a sense of identity for my family and my community. How can organizations and companies better support you beyond honoring the day of Juneteenth? Our company has done a great job of starting to honor Juneteenth. I would like to see more of a formal celebration of Black/African American holidays in the future — for example, I think MLK day and/or Juneteenth should be firm holidays. Many companies have made a commitment to give their employees the day off, which sets a different precedent for acknowledging the importance of the African American community’s contributions to the foundation America was built on. Slaves built this country with their bare hands, and America, including large organizations, have continued to diminish and forget that. It may sound far-fetched, but it’s a small and easy way for our company to show how much these contributions have added to the luxuries and privileges we enjoy today.