Woman convinces employer to make Juneteenth permanent paid holiday

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Friday, June 19, 2020
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Kamaria Morris successfully convinced her employer to make Juneteenth a permanent paid holiday.

CHICAGO -- A woman successfully convinced her employer to make Juneteenth a permanent paid holiday and told her story in a now-viral tweet thread.

Kamaria Morris works as an assistant director of communications at Erikson Institute, a graduate school in downtown Chicago.

She said this started as a conversation with her boss about the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and locally, Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer in 2014.

"With the protests that emerged after George Floyd's murder, it was really a time for all of us to figure out what we can really do so that this time is different," she said.

She said during the conversation, she pitched making June 19 a company holiday to observe Juneteenth, a celebration commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

"It can be really scary to speak up, particularly if you are the only black person in your workplace or one of only a few. It is really scary and nerve-wracking," Morris said.

But Morris said the Erikson Institute was receptive and gave all employees a paid holiday to reflect and plan.

She posted her story to Twitter Monday, and as of Friday, more than 26,000 users have retweeted it.

"I have had so many hundreds and thousands of messages of people wanting to implement this in their workplace, asking me for tips ... it shows me that so many people this time around are really on our side and everyone's sick of where we are at this moment and really ready to band together to make change," she said.