'A redemption day for the human race’
David Mills, an Operator and member of the Sweeny Black Employee Network, says that while slavery in the United States may feel like a thing of the past, generationally it’s still quite recent.
“My dad could never tell me my grandpa Mills' birth year because there's no actual record,” Mills said. “The parallel to that is that we, as black people, are a people with no real record of heritage prior to Juneteenth. Personally, I believe Juneteenth is the birth date of a race of people.”
Juneteenth marks the true end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read an order announcing that all enslaved people had been granted their freedom. This news was delivered more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery.
“Juneteenth represents the strength and endurance of the black community,” said Amy Scott-Sanjur, Financial Analyst and Co-Chair of the Bartlesville Black Employee Network. “Juneteenth represents perseverance and strong willpower. Juneteenth means celebrating the freedom of my friends’ and family’s ancestors.”
Many Americans have commemorated the day since the late 1800s. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas in 1979 and a federal holiday in the United States in 2021.
Across Phillips 66, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate, educate, embrace and remember. Among the celebrations happening across Phillips 66:
- The Wood River Refinery is celebrating Juneteenth with an annual Soul Food Celebration featuring a special menu, music and trivia.
- The Lake Charles Refinery is sponsoring a local Juneteenth Festival. Members of the LCR Black Employee Network will volunteer during the event and have been instrumental in its planning.
- The Sweeny Refinery is commemorating the day with informational presentations, a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and a visit to the Armstrong Cemetery – a resting place of numerous people who were previously enslaved that is located on refinery grounds.
- The Bartlesville campus is sponsoring an event at the Westside Community Center. Along with a variety of Juneteenth educational materials, the event will feature a DJ, bounce house, yard games and food trucks and vendors.
Mills said Juneteenth is a day that should be recognized and celebrated by all.
“We should take the time to recognize the accomplishments of African-American descendants of slaves and acknowledge the resilience of those who have done great things in such adversity,” Mills said. “Also, we should work to help others who were not necessarily able to overcome that adversity. That's how you right a wrong and celebrate growth. It’s a redemption day for the human race.”