Educating and Commemorating Juneteenth
Hall Render’s Former President and Managing Partner, John Ryan, speaks with shareholder and DEI committee chairperson, Charise Frazier, about Juneteenth and how Hall Render as an organization is educating employees and commemorating this important holiday.
Former President & Managing Partner, Hall Render
Shareholder & DEI Committee Chair, Hall Render
John Ryan: Hello, and welcome to Hall Render’s Practical Solutions in Health Care podcast. I’m John Ryan, [former] president and managing partner at Hall Render, largest health care focused law firm in the country. Today, I’ll be talking with Hall Render shareholder, our DEI committee chairperson, Charise Frazier, about Juneteenth and what we’re doing internally as an organization to educate and commemorate this holiday. So, Charise, hello. Welcome to the podcast.
Charise Frazier: Good afternoon, John. It’s great to be here.
John Ryan: So, maybe to kick things off, you could tell us a little bit about your role as it relates to the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives here at Hall Render and the work of our DEI committee. Maybe discuss your role a bit, how long you’ve served in this capacity and the core areas where you and the committee have been focused.
Charise Frazier: Yeah, absolutely. So, as you mentioned, I’m the chair of the DEI committee, which is Diversity Equity Inclusion here. I’ve served in that capacity for over four years now and have served on the committee for about seven years now. And really, most recently … Late last year we spent some time developing a diversity equity and strategic plan for the firm. So based on that, we have three main goals that the committee would like to steer the organization in, and that’s focusing on creating a diverse workforce, and that’s going to be both through recruitment and retention. We also want to create and cultivate an inclusive and engaged environment where everyone can come and feel as if they belong and bring their best self and do their best work. And then finally we want to hold ourselves accountable for the work that we are doing and making sure that the goals that we are setting for ourselves and the metrics that we are looking at are consistent with achieving those goals.
Charise Frazier: So with that, we’re also now in the process of trying to develop a work plan, which will serve as a roadmap to helping us accomplish those three main goals. So the committee has been spending some time with that along with leadership within the organization, just trying to figure out what’s going to be the best roadmap for Hall Render.
John Ryan: Well, thank you. It’s been, having sat in the chair that I have and watched the work of the committee and you in leading that committee, I certainly, for one, have enjoyed the exercises that we’ve gone through over these last several months and the work product that’s starting to take shape and guide the firm.
John Ryan: Let’s turn a little bit more specific. I’d like to talk a little bit about the upcoming Juneteenth. I’ll admit, this is a day of significance that I was not very knowledgeable on until the last 12 months or so. I’m wondering if you might share with me and our listeners a bit about the history of Juneteenth and what the holiday commemorates. Maybe also why you believe it’s becoming a more celebrated event in the last year or so, or at least has gotten more recognition than it had in years past.
Charise Frazier: Yep. So, here’s what I will say. I think, you know, you pointed it out, it has been one of those little-known holidays, I would say, for years. I think among the African-American community, Juneteenth has been celebrated, certainly, since I was a child. It is a holiday that we celebrate and look to for … Very similar to Independence Day, right? So, for the 4th of July, Juneteenth is very much like that in the African-American community.
Charise Frazier: And just to give a little bit of history behind it, it really serves as the actual day of freedom of the ending of slavery for all African-Americans. And I think what’s interesting about the story of June 19th and I guess, first, why it’s called June 19th. So, that just represents the month of June and then the 19th today.
Charise Frazier: In 1865, in Texas, after the emancipation proclamation, and this is more than two and a half years later, there are a group of slaves, over 200,000 slaves, in Texas, had not been freed and they had not gotten the word that slavery had ended.
Charise Frazier: I think this marks the day where really all Americans became free, right? While we look at the emancipation proclamation as that date, because there were so many that were still in slavery, we look at Juneteenth to be the actual day and the day that celebrated as a day of independence and a day of freedom where our country was moving away from enslavement.
Charise Frazier: I think it remains very remarkable and relevant today. It serves as a celebration of the progress we’ve obtained throughout the generations. But it also serves as a reminder of the work that is yet still to come. As we do those celebrations, it’s always about kind of highlight where we’ve been and where we’re going in this fight for equality and justice in America and making certain that everyone have the freedoms that we all believe we should have in the States.
John Ryan: Great. Well, thanks for that answer. That was a good history lesson and also an opportunity for me to better understand, and I suspect our listeners as well, not just about the history, but also about the significance of that date and why we would be celebrating June 19th.
John Ryan: Talk a little bit about the focus more recently, the added notoriety that this holiday has gotten, particularly in my instance, in the last year or so, I suspect for many as well. Just interested in your thinking. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the events of the last 12 months and the result in added significance in a holiday that just didn’t get that notoriety that it had in the past. Anything that you can add relative to kind of the increased notoriety with respect to June 19th?
Charise Frazier: You know what, I think it’s just awareness and education, right? Like, as you mentioned, learning the American history and understanding American history has given individuals a new appreciation of the importance of recognizing the significance of this holiday. But so many didn’t even know why it was a holiday or why people were celebrating. I think most people believe that slavery ended with the emancipation proclamation. And once folks became aware and realize that celebrations were happening, I saw lots of people wanting to join in or better understand it. I think, really, the notoriety is also recognizing the work that we have to still do in this country.
Charise Frazier: I think, as you pointed out, you know, over the last 12 months, the amount of injustices that still plagues the African-American community was just something that I don’t think that a lot of people recognize was still happening in this day and age. A lot of people saw that as being history and not modern-day.
Charise Frazier: So I think as people began to be enlightened about not what happened 400 years ago, but what’s actually still happening today in many different forms. I think folks started to want to have a better understanding of it. And then, like I said, I think here and now it promotes kind of the continued fight for freedoms and equality and rights. And I think lots of people thought we were living in a world that was equal but have learned over the time that there’s a lot of inequalities that still exist. And now we are seeing kind of some movement and momentum to kind of make that change and push towards the quality. I think this holiday is one that gives people an opportunity to do just that, celebrate it, join the in in the challenges, and kind of move this thing forward.
John Ryan: Focusing on the last point you made about joining in, I’d be interested in your thoughts on what can those individuals, our listeners, others, myself, who are interested do to commemorate the holiday?
Charise Frazier: Certainly I think the first thing is just learning more about the holiday. I think, again, as I mentioned early on, Juneteenth is something that I’ve celebrated as a child. However, I too have taken the time to learn more about the history of this holiday and the fact that the first Juneteenth happened in 1866, so the year after the order was entered and taking the time to actually read the order in Texas from Granger that says, “Okay, this is what’s happening,” and kind of everything that had gone around that.
Charise Frazier: I think one of the best things you can do is educate yourself, right? Look at the information, learn as much as you can, recognize the importance and the significance, and then just take some time to reflect on how that may be impacting you, your life, friends or families or any of those things just so, because I think part of it is just understanding. I think allyship comes with making an effort to understand, and once you get that understanding, then I think you’re able to contribute in a meaningful way to the cause.
John Ryan: Great. I’ve got a final question for you. I promise it’s an easy one.
John Ryan: But I’d be really interested in your thoughts on, really, how do all these efforts and these activities that you’ve mentioned, and I love your comments on education and awareness and the value of that as well, but if you kind of wrap all that together, how do all these efforts and activities tie into a larger DEI strategy for our firm and really for our communities.
Charise Frazier: I think one of the things that is important in DEI is developing cultural competencies, right? And cultural competencies, again, goes back to education piece, and that is learning the norms and the backgrounds and the understandings of cultures that are different from. So we here at the firm, on a monthly basis, we highlight various different holidays from different cultures or different lifestyles that individuals may have. And the point of that is to educate our sales around what are some of the norms that are not normal to me but are everyday norms for someone else. And then how can I better understand that so that when I am interacting with someone who’s different or have a different background from me, we can have a positive interaction.
Charise Frazier: I think highlighting something like Juneteenth is an opportunity to introduce a lot of people to a cultural activity that they have not been aware of or, frankly, never been involved in. And so helping to develop this cultural competency also allows individuals to become more comfortable because we’re all human. So as I better understand who you are, your likes and dislikes, the reason you do things or don’t do things, that helps me develop a better relationship with you.
Charise Frazier: I think, both within Hall Render and for anyone who’s developing their DEI plans or processes that you want to help develop cultural competency by constantly introducing your workforce to information and celebrations and cultures that they may not have been introduced to, this will then allow them to be able to interact with folks.
Charise Frazier: I think one of our models is, from a DEI’s perspective, is take the opportunity to learn something new and do something different. And when you’re constantly taking that opportunity to do that, you are oftentimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, but as with anything, once you’ve did it once, the second time is so much easier and then it becomes second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to get these things to do, that we celebrate everyone. And those celebrations are very comfortable to all because it’s just second nature kind of deal.
John Ryan: Charise, we’re in good hands with your leadership and that of the DEI committee. I really thank you for what you shared today and the very informative discussion.
John Ryan: Thanks to everybody for listening in today. If you or your organization have thoughts or DEI programs that you’d like to share with us or ideas, please contact us on our website at hallrender.com, or reach out to me or Charise, we’d be happy to chat as well.
John Ryan: Thanks again, and everyone have a great day. Thanks, Charise.
Charise Frazier: Thanks, John.