Portland Credit Unions Honor Juneteenth


Last week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced his intention to “formally recognize the significance of June 19 and observe it as a day of remembrance and action.”

In response to recent events and to demonstrate solidarity among their diverse memberships, three Portland-based credit unions joined Mayor Wheeler in recognizing Juneteenth as an important day in American history. Several other credit unions across the Northwest also recognized the holiday through posts and messages to members.

Consolidated Community Credit Union announced on its website that it would be closed June 19 in commemoration of the holiday.

“The Consolidated Community Credit Union Board and management team felt that now was the right time for our credit union to assume a leadership role in our community and take a stand against racism,” said President and CEO, Larry Ellifritz. “It is a small gesture to close the credit union on June 19 to commemorate the Juneteenth celebration, but it is never the wrong time to do to the right thing.

“We have created a list of resource materials for our staff and members so we may all become more educated about Juneteenth and the systemic racism that has plagued our state. We realize we do not have all the answers and the journey is not all roses, but our credit union knows we can do more to assist communities of color, and we are up for the challenge.” 

Point West Credit Union also shared that it would be closed on June 19 and encouraged staff members to take this time to listen, learn, and reflect on Black history and systemic racism.

“Point West Credit Union stands with its Black members, neighbors, businesses, friends and family in denouncing the continued systemic inequity and injustice rooted in the original enslavement of Black people” said Amy Nelson, CEO. “While we recognize that simply closing the credit union to observe and honor Juneteenth is but a small step toward acknowledging the unique and difficult experience of our Black community, Point West believes now more than ever is not the time to remain silent. We must continue to work together to dismantle systems of oppression.” 

Unitus Community Credit Union created another unique way to recognize the day.

“Unitus joins with our community in celebrating Juneteenth by providing our employees a cultural floating holiday to be used that day or another day which is culturally meaningful,” said Steve Stapp, President and CEO. “This has been a very important time for people to pause, listen, discuss, and take action. We hope this provides each individual that option. We have much to work to do in our community, nation, and throughout the world to end racism.”

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday that celebrates the liberation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union Army general Gordon Granger brought federal orders to Galveston, Texas, proclaiming all enslaved people in Texas were free. These orders came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

“Over the past week, my colleagues and I have been looking at ways the City can best acknowledge that history and highlight Juneteenth,” said Wheeler. “We are committed to making sure this holiday is more than a gesture. It must symbolize our commitment to eliminating anti-Black racism within the City of Portland’s workforce and community.”

Have a question or comment about this story? Email us!

Posted in Around the NW.