More credit unions close to commemorate Juneteenth

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More credit unions are celebrating Juneteenth by giving employees time off to reflect.

Some credit unions closed for the entire day out of respect for Juneteenth, including United Heritage Credit Union in Austin and Virginia Credit Union in North Chesterfield, Va.

Others, including Truliant Federal Credit Union in Winston-Salem, N.C., Henrico Federal Credit Union in Henrico, Va., Verity Credit Union in Seattle and Seattle Credit Union, all said they would close early on Friday to observe the holiday.

Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va., the world’s largest credit union by assets, also will also close its doors early.

"Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in our country,” Mary McDuffie, president and CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union, said in a statement. “We at Navy Federal are encouraging our employees to take time to reflect, learn and recognize our history and the need to work together to build a better, more promising tomorrow."

Juneteenth is an annual holiday that observes the end of slavery in the United States, when more than 250,000 enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free. That news arrived more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

"This early closure will allow our branch employees — many of whom have been working on the front lines to support our members throughout the COVID-19 crisis — time to reflect, learn and participate in meaningful events and discussions in their communities,” Seattle Credit Union wrote in a tweet.

State Employees Federal Credit Union’s branches will remain open this year, but management said that the Albany, N.Y.-based credit union will make June 19 a company holiday moving forward.

"It is a day that forever changed millions of lives — and the world," SEFCU wrote on its website.

Widespread protests erupted after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody late last month. Demonstrators have drawn attention to racism in the U.S. and have called for social justice reforms.

Bank of America pledged $1 billion in funding for racial equality initiatives, double its prior commitment. A number of banks, including JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial Services and Comerica, announced partial or full closures for the day.

Rodney Hood, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, said that Juneteenth’s celebration “compels all of us to do our part to advance the goal of greater financial inclusion for more Americans,” in a statement released Friday. He has also argued that financial inclusion is the “the civil rights issue of our generation.”

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