Message from Dennis Brockman: What Juneteenth Means to Me

In a letter to US partners (employees) global chief inclusion and diversity officer Dennis Brockman shares an invitation to pause, reflect, and to explore the history of Juneteenth.


The events of the last year have produced a broader awakening across this country and around the globe in the fight for racial and social equity. This is true at Starbucks, too. While this is not a new journey for us, we have spent the last year looking deeper, listening more intentionally, and reflecting on our responsibility to each other – to care for one another, to strengthen our communities and to ensure diverse voices are heard at all levels of the company.

Last June, we paused to examine how we were living up to Starbucks Mission and Values. We did this by listening to our Partner Networks and by embracing guidance from our Black Partner Network. Together, we unequivocally stood in solidarity with our Black partners to celebrate freedom, condemn oppression and recognize Juneteenth as an annual U.S. company holiday. This was one of many actions we’ve taken to promote an environment where our partners see and feel real progress. At Starbucks, Our Mission and Values aren’t just words, they are at the core of who we are.

Juneteenth is a day celebrated by many Black and African Americans as our Independence Day. The history of this day always gives me pause. On June 19, 1865 enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were told by Union soldiers that the Civil War had ended, and they were free. This came almost two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation ending legal slavery. I think about this delay – how my people remained enslaved years after they were legally free, about the systems in place to keep them enslaved, and about the systems still in place today that keep people of color from reaching our full potential. Juneteenth is a day of celebration, but it also a day to reflect on and learn about its history. It is a day that inspires me to keep doing the work to unravel these systems so we can feel truly seen, heard and valued.

This year marks the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, and I invite you to pause, reflect, and to explore the history of Juneteenth through the stories and resources shared on Starbucks Stories. I also invite you to share the spirit of Juneteenth in your homes by spending the day with family and friends in community around shared food and traditions.

We acknowledge that there is much to be done at Starbucks and around the world to help ensure every individual, regardless of their background, can succeed and thrive. As we work to advance racial and social equity within our company, our stores, and our communities, we remain committed to being transparent, intentional and to holding ourselves accountable.

I know our partners and communities have been through a lot, and I want to thank each of you for your hard work and trust. The journey we are on is a marathon and not a sprint, and I value days like Juneteenth that inspire me to pause and reflect not only on the past, but on the road ahead.

I wish you all a happy and healthy Juneteenth!

Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society."  – John Lewis

Your partner,