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Many people across the country have been celebrating Juneteenth for years. But many others are just learning of its significance this year following the massive protests across the country sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and most recently, Rayshard Brooks.

Juneteenth commemorates the day when Union Gen. Gordon Granger went to Galveston, Texas, to announce enslaved Black people were free. That day was June 19, 1865. The name for the holiday is a mashup of the date, “June” and “nineteenth.”

The message was delivered for former slaves who had no idea that they had technically been freed two years prior when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

“When we talk about Juneteenth, we’re talking about actual emancipation,” Maurice Hobson, a college professor of African American studies, told WSB-TV. “The 19th of June is just as important to Black people [as the Fourth of July], and it should be celebrated as such.”

Companies such as Target, Ford, Google, the NFL, Spotify and Twitter publicly announced they would observe Juneteenth as a paid company holiday this year.

But Hobson said people need to be careful that they’re not satisfied with just getting a day off. And companies need to do more to educate all employees and to make a difference.

“We must take advantage of the fact that corporate America is beginning to bring something that is mainstream to Black America to the rest of the mainstream,” he said. “But I also think that we should proceed with caution.”

Hobson said this is the time to have real conversations and enforce real policy changes tied to social justice, public education, Black maternal reproductive health and voter suppression.

“I’m less interested in corporations being able to give $200 million when they’re making $1 trillion. They want to give a paid holiday to people. We have paid holidays. We really do need change. And so, I’m extremely cautious because I don’t want them to get off so easy to where when it’s all said and done, they say, ‘We gave you this,’ when it doesn’t trickle down to the masses,” he said, referencing the inclusion of working class people and non-Black people. “When I say the masses, if it’s good for the majority of people in the world, it’s good for everyone … It’s love conquers all.”

Marc Morial, the president of National Urban League, echoed Hobson’s sentiments in a recent interview.

“Making a statement and contributing money is a checking of a box. That is not what is needed,” he said, according to USA Today.

Morial said corporate holidays and company donations to organizations “should not be seen as a replacement or as a substitute for the efforts that need to be made to fix the policing system, reform the criminal justice system, or reform economic and education inequities in America.”

“That’s what is important,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to read into it, ‘We [granted the holiday]. We don’t have to do this.‘”

On the flip side, Tamika Nunley, who teaches American history at Oberlin College, said observing the holiday is new for corporate America, and it’s a step in the right direction. She said in some ways, Juneteenth is tied to freedom from labor, and thus, “there’s no other place that’s more fitting to acknowledge” the holiday than within the workplace.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.