· Article

Juneteenth: Reflection, unity and hope

· Article

Juneteenth: Reflection, unity and hope


Makelle Pryor, Customer Relationship Center manager in New Orleans, Sleep Number ® setting 50, shares her story and reflects on the importance of Juneteenth (June 19), commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Makelle Pryor commemorating Juneteenth.

“Juneteenth reaches back to my childhood as my mom shared her traditions as a little girl growing up. While I didn’t fully understand it at the time, part of her reason for honoring this holiday was so she could educate my sister and me on the history and instill hope in the change to come.

Growing up, on Juneteenth we went to church and community events near my hometown of LaPlace, Louisiana. We ate great barbeque, fished and attended rodeos. My mom was a creative writer and she went the extra mile for Juneteenth, writing, producing and directing plays and skits recognizing the holiday, and renting out the local theatre to put on shows. People would recite poetry, sing and perform interpretive dance. My sister and I were inspired to get involved and participate in these activities – making Juneteenth part of our heritage.

With the recent civil unrest across the country, this year is different. In our community, black business owners and entrepreneurs are joining together to host popup shops to support one another. I’m getting involved locally because I believe it’s a great opportunity to give people of color exposure, draw others into conversation and show how far we’ve come … while understanding there is still progress to make.

To me, Juneteenth is a day of hope. Even though our ancestors knew that the ending of slavery wouldn’t mean total acceptance, there was hope in the change to come. Today, it’s a chance to unify through inclusivity. Instead of being afraid, we can embrace one another’s differences, have meaningful conversations and take action. For me, observing Juneteenth makes people aware and instills renewed hope every year.”

Sleep Number’s commitment

In honor of this important holiday, we are supporting the National Urban League – a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization – with a $100,000 donation as they continue to focus on improving lives in the Black community.

Sleep Number’s foundation is built on individuality; our values inspire a culture of inclusion. Strength comes from differences. Because we are all different, because we come from many backgrounds, because we have unique experiences and perspectives, we are stronger. More than ever, we must embrace our differences, listen with empathy and learn from one another.

It is our responsibility to drive change, have courage and make a difference in the world by taking action against racial inequity and social injustice. Recognizing this is not a quick fix and impactful social change requires diversity of change, we are first investing the time to have difficult conversations, to listen and learn. Then, we will determine how Sleep Number will use our resources and our platform to effect change.

Stand up, speak up, show up

Today, and ongoing, we are encouraging our team members to participate. A few ideas include:

  • Get involved: Sleep Number supports team member community involvement – this is our culture of giving. 
  • Learn: Listen to podcasts, read about Juneteenth history and talk to friends and family about the importance of this day.
  • Support others: Attend a virtual celebration, support Black-owned businesses, share what you’ve learned.

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