MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The list of companies observing Juneteenth continues to grow, including the City of Memphis.
Earlier this week, the Memphis City Council proclaimed Juneteenth a city holiday, with it becoming a paid holiday beginning 2021.
"This is an independence day that helps to make July 4th a more legitimate holiday," said Dr. Charles McKinney, Professor of Africana History at Rhodes College.
McKinney says June 19, 1865 is one of the most important days in American History.
"Juneteenth commemorates the moment in time in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas finally heard about emancipation," McKinney said.
Enslaved people in Texas were amongst the last African Americans to learn about emancipation in 1865 --two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation.
“The emancipation of four million people, the land of the free and home of the brave so we should celebrate that.”
Though many black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth for centuries many companies are observing Juneteenth as a holiday for the first time following nationwide protests calling for racial equality.
"It speaks volumes to the shift of the culture," said Cynthia Daniels.
Daniels is the founder of the "Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience" - a virtual platform to help patrons shop safely with 100 black-owned businesses on Juneteenth.
Daniels thought Juneteenth would be the perfect day to highlight black-owned businesses in the Mid-South and across the country - especially after many have taken a hard hit due to COVID-19.
"It's more important now than ever to support black businesses just because they're at a disadvantage when it comes to the marketing dollars, the savings and how they can complete with big corporations."
There will be more than 100 participating in the virtual event including businesses in cities like Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta.
"This is an opportunity to impact those businesses on Juneteenth, but also these brands can become some of your favorites and you can patronize them all year round," Daniels said.
She added the Juneteenth isn't just for black people, but for people of all races, backgrounds and ethnicities to enjoy.
Dr. McKinney hopes that both companies and Americans will keep this momentum in the future.
"What do you do above and beyond your statements of support, what do you do above and beyond your really pretty PR campaign affirming that black lives matter? What next?" McKinney asked.
For more information on the Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience, click here.