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Juneteenth teaches us that proclamations are not enough

Jun 17, 2022 12:00pm
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Keyra Lynn Johnson
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
As the Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Keyra Lynn Johnson is charged with leading the company in modeling a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy with supporting programs, initiatives and action plans that have impact on Delta employees, customers and the community. Under Keyra’s leadership, Delta’s strategy seeks diversity, pursues equity, promotes inclusion and drives accountability for actions that foster sustainable results. 
Juneteenth reminds us that inaction and delay can disrupt the course of humanity’s reconciliation. It also reminds us that proclamations, statements, stances and beliefs alone don’t bring about change, justice or equity. 

This weekend, as people across the country honor Juneteenth, I reflect on this fact: even a proclamation can fall flat if the supporting knowledge and actions are not in place.   

Juneteenth commemorates the date when the message of freedom, as declared in the Emancipation Proclamation, finally reached nearly 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas more than two years later.   

“Delay” is often a silently moving rival of justice. That’s why the impact of delayed justice and empty proclamations are as old as they are new. Therefore, we must work hard to ensure our proclamations – or words – don’t outpace our actions.  

Juneteenth reminds us that inaction and delay can disrupt the course of humanity’s reconciliation. It also reminds us that proclamations, statements, stances and beliefs alone don’t bring about change, justice or equity. 

That requires that we be honest and humble enough to admit there are wrongs to be righted, injustices to address, and actions to be taken. When these moments arise, whether in the family room, a breakroom or a board room, we are given the opportunities to not only proclaim change – but also put supporting plans, actions and systems in place to achieve the desired outcomes.    

I am proud that Delta’s commitment to actively seek diversity, boldly pursue equity or consciously promote inclusion is backed with transparency, accountability and action plans because proclamations will never be enough.  

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With commitments laid out in the August 2020 memo from Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian to advance racial justice and diversity within our business, Delta will continue sharing updates and progress on our goal to become an equitable, anti-racist organization.

This Juneteenth, take time to acknowledge the resilience, joy, weight, potential and more that anchor this holiday in different ways for so many.  And, please consider how you can be a part of society’s diversity, equity and inclusion journey.  

Change doesn’t always happen overnight – but a journey is different than an unnecessary delay. As I accelerate my personal DEI journey, alongside accelerating our DEI journey at Delta, let’s all move with a sense of urgency as if the enslaved individuals in Galveston are waiting … and deserving.

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