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06.17.21 | Sage Advice

Juneteenth Officially Declared a National Holiday

After the protests in June 2020 that followed the murder of George Floyd, a national reckoning with racial justice has dominated conversations in governments, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and homes alike. As part of that reckoning, America as a whole is asking itself: how do we better support, celebrate and uplift African Americans and African American culture? One way: making Juneteenth a recognized holiday.

Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. It’s an occasion that’s been long celebrated in African American communities, but now attention is being brought to the holiday at the national, state and local level.

In 2020, Cook County officially recognized Juneteenth as a paid holiday for its government employees. Cook County is the largest county in Illinois, and became the largest county in the country to make such a declaration. After this milestone event, the state of Illinois wanted to be the next to follow. 

Legislation was unanimously approved by the Illinois House and the state Senate to make June 19th a paid holiday off for all state employees, as well as a school holiday. The legislation states that if June 19th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday will be observed on the following Monday. After J.B. Pritzker officially signed off on the bill on June 16th, it became official. Juneteenth is an official state holiday in Illinois, beginning on January 1, 2022. Unfortunately, Juneteenth falls on a Sunday in 2022, and the holiday will have its first chance to be formally recognized in 2023 as a paid day off for state employees as well as a holiday off from school. 

The Illinois bill was first sponsored by Representative La Shawn Ford. He’s also sponsored similar legislation in the past, but told the Chicago Tribune, there “wasn’t an appetite” for passing the legislation previously. He then told the Tribune that all changed after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota, saying, “Now, post-George Floyd, this is the time,” Ford said. “Some would say this is an African American holiday, but it’s an American holiday.”

Illinois isn’t the only one taking action. On Tuesday night (June 15th), The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

The recognition of Juneteenth was a long time coming and hopefully marks a turning point in how the United States – on local, state, and national levels – begins to reckon with its history and present, and create a better future for all.

From Sage Collective to you and yours, Happy Juneteenth!

A photo of an African American woman in a dashiki with the African flag draped over her shoulders. She's walking down the street triumphantly. Text over the image reads Happy Juneteenth, with the Sage Collective logo
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12.15.20 | Sage Advice

Celebrating the December Holiday Season Safely

The December holiday season (like everything else this year) is looking different than usual. With COVID-19 cases spiking this winter, it’s more important than ever to practice safety: always wear a mask, maintain social distance and stay home whenever possible. Traveling and large group gatherings are highly discouraged during COVID-19 — which means many of us are glumly accepting that seeing our family in person isn’t the safest option. But like every challenge this year, there are creative ways we can overcome this obstacle. Below are a few joy-filled ideas on how to celebrate the December holiday season safely:

Get Creative (and Passionate) with Baking

Nothing better fills at-home time (and our bellies) than baking. This holiday season, revisit the family cookbooks for some inspiration and whip up a feast of delicious goods. The best thing about food — it’s meant to be shared. Try organizing a cookie swap with the neighbors on your block by asking everyone to bake their favorites and to drop it off at each other’s doorsteps. Sharing food is a great way to feel like we’re together, even when we’re apart. 

Enjoy Festive Decorations

Holiday decorations are another way we share our joy and excitement with others. Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood to see how your community’s decorative cheer is being displayed. Or join in on the festivities and hang decorations around your own home to express yourself. Going to see festive decorations can also become an exciting excursion with this TimeOut list of lights to see in Chicago.

Make and Exchange Holiday Cards

Holiday cards are an exciting occasion every year, but this year especially, there’s an extra exhilaration to sending and receiving snail mail. Whether it’s a family photo, a fun drawing or a personally written note, make an event out of creating your holiday cards this year. And when they’re done, share them with friends, family and more. Veterans, children’s hospitals and incarcerated folks are also great recipients for holiday cards!

Host a Video-Chat Party

We’re no strangers to Zoom this year. Video chatting platforms are perfect for hosting virtual holiday parties safely. There’s nothing you can’t do with a well-positioned camera — cook together virtually, have dinner together virtually or just hang out. Try spicing up your virtual holiday party with activities like holiday-theme bingo, trivia or sing-alongs. 

No matter the circumstances, people will always find a way to celebrate special moments together. From the Sage Collective team to you, have a happy and safe holiday season!

An array of holiday celebration items, including handmade cards, hot chocolate and seasonal ornaments
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