Juneteenth: Why it’s important to learn from the past to create a better future #WeMustDoBetter

John-Antony, a member of Alaska's Business Resource Group Air Group Black Employees, Allies and Advocates, at last year's Juneteenth event in Seattle.

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine

We continue to be heartbroken by the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and too many others. Our CEO Brad Tilden shared thoughts on these tragic events through an open letter to our employees, which you can read here

At Alaska, we are currently conducting employee listening sessions with Brad and our President, Ben Minicucci, to inform both short- and long-term action plans to address racial equity within and beyond our company. Listening and learning are part of the journey. Talking about race isn’t easy, however, it is critical to learn about the history, experiences and perspectives of Black people in America. 

Last year, ABEA members, Alaska CEO Brad Tilden & employees celebrated Juneteenth.

This Friday, June 19, is a significant day to commemorate Juneteenth, the oldest-known tribute to the end of slavery in the United States. While slavery ended a long time ago, racism has not. 

Today, Alaska’s Business Resource Group, Air Group Black Employees, Allies and Advocates (ABEA) is hosting a virtual internal discussion with all Alaska and Horizon Air employees in recognition of Juneteenth in the hope of educating, engaging and uplifting our company. The virtual event will also feature guest speaker LeNesha DeBardelaben, who is the executive director of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle and an African American Historian. 

In 2019, employees celebrated Juneteenth at the airport in Seattle.

“In order to know where we’re going, we need to understand where we’ve been,” said ABEA BRG leader, Sarah [pictured in middle of photo above]. “Our hope is that revisiting the struggles and resilience from the past will help increase understanding and help us gather strength for the road ahead.”

Watch video to hear ABEA members explain Juneteenth:


  1. This is a great start. Getting people who are already willing to listen is not the problem. for years many of us have encouraged others to open their minds to history. Not an easy task. But i applaud this company for trying. Thanks you

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