Celebrating Juneteenth Through Resilience and Opportunity

By Sonia Swaray, Launch Strategist, DailyPay

Sonia Swaray, Launch Strategist, DailyPay

Sonia Swaray, Launch Strategist, DailyPay

Juneteenth provides not only an opportunity for our country to celebrate the freedom of the Black community and our progress at large but also a moment for us to reflect on the Black community’s resilience and take stock of where we still have yet to go. I am always reflective of my personal journey as an immigrant from Sierra Leone to the United States and the path that has led me to where I am today.

Juneteenth, or June 19, commemorates the day enslaved Black people of the westernmost Confederate state of Texas learned of their freedom. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective two and half years prior, in 1863, freedom was not fully granted until June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced to more than 250,000 enslaved Black people that they were free by executive decree. 

The years that immediately followed, the Reconstruction Era, provided an opportunity for radical change and hope for formerly enslaved people. They sought to reunify their families, run for public office, establish profitable communities, and even sue slave owners for compensation. But as history would have it, this newfound moment of optimism and possibility would be met with yet another obstacle, the Jim Crow Era. 

Such is the story of the Black community – grounded in resilience. The empowering highs are often met with crippling lows, and yet we forge on, continuing to be leaders, movers, and shakers who have made and continue to make an insurmountable impact on our communities and our country. 

While I am not originally from the United States, I believe this same resilience runs through all Black people of the diaspora. My family and I came to the United States as refugees of a civil war in Sierra Leone with very little to our name. It is only by way of resilience, community, faith, and likely a bit of luck that I have been able to receive any of the opportunities that I have been given from the schools I was able to attend, the jobs I was able to work and the lifestyle I am able to partake in. These experiences have only encouraged me to pay it forward and support the Black community with the resources available. 

Present-day surveys identify the striking disparities between Black households in America when comparing income to all other racial and ethnic groups. According to the Federal Reserve’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, in 2022, the median wealth of Black households was $44,900, which equated to 15.8% of the median wealth of white households and trails behind all other racial groups. 

It is this very disparity that led me to DailyPay. Given these disproportionate figures, I’ve been pleased to work alongside DailyPay’s mission-driven organization to pay it forward and improve the financial well-being of millions of hourly workers. DailyPay provides me with the unique opportunity to work directly with employers who employ diverse candidates whose lives have been made better by the financial benefit we offer. This impact should not be lost on us. 

As we honor Juneteenth and as we do our work every day, I encourage my colleagues to keep the communities we serve at the forefront of our minds. As we create equitable access to financial well-being in the work that we do, we should also find ways to learn from, embrace, champion, and promote diverse perspectives and people and create equitable opportunities in our everyday lives.

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