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One of the largest hospitals in Georgia is letting employees know that Christmas Eve is no longer an observed holiday because its commitment to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” means it must recognize Juneteenth instead.
Emory Healthcare, a part of Emory University and the “most comprehensive health system in Georgia,” told employees that starting in 2024 they will have to use paid time off to observe Christmas Eve.
“Thanks to your feedback, the Executive Leadership Team and I have decided to make Juneteenth (June 19th) an EHC observed holiday,” the hospital’s CEO Joon S. Lee announced. “Beginning January 2024, we will remove Christmas Eve from our holiday calendar and replace it with Juneteenth.”
The memo explains “diversity, equity and inclusion at Emory Healthcare is about creating an environment of true belonging for our patients and team members, while ensuring equitable outcomes for all,” and that, although Christmas Eve will no longer be a recognized holiday, “team members will still have the flexibility and option to use paid time off for Christmas Eve.”
It contends “diversity, equity and inclusion at Emory Healthcare is about creating an environment of true belonging for our patients and team members, while ensuring equitable outcomes for all.”
The memo goes on to explain the decision, reading “For each observed holiday, our clinics and business offices close, which means our patients are unable to make clinic appointments for those days. To minimize impact to patient care, we will not be adding another paid holiday to our calendar.”
Some Americans have lamented what they see as a decline in the celebration of Christmas and the general secularization of the holiday. One 2021 poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that 37% of Americans believe that there is a “war on Christmas,” marking a significant jump from the 29% who said the same in 2013.
Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021, who declared that the holiday reminds us of “the ongoing work to … bring true equity and racial justice into American society.” He went on to remark “this day doesn’t just celebrate the past; it calls for action today.” It recognizes the date in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the United States reached Texas.
Other Democrat officials have seized on Juneteenth as a tool for “black liberation,” which, according to Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), includes reparations, an end to the war on drugs, and teaching “the truth about white supremacy in our country.”
It’s Juneteenth AND reparations.
It’s Juneteenth AND end police violence + the War on Drugs.
It’s Juneteenth AND end housing + education apartheid.
It’s Juneteenth AND teach the truth about white supremacy in our country.
Black liberation must be prioritized.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) June 19, 2023
Emory Healthcare did not respond to a request for comment.