Juneteenth Interview Series: Jeffrey Barge, Assistant Digital Billing Manager
Today we will continue our celebration of Juneteenth with our next entry….
On June 19th, 1865, General Order Number 3 was read to all individuals residing in Galveston, Texas, proclaiming that all slaves in America, including in the state of Texas, were henceforth free. June 19th, or Juneteenth, marks a very specific date where major progress in our country was not only made, but more importantly enforced. The battle for racial equality has and will continue, but since the inception of Juneteenth there have been other major strides and successes among African American individuals or diverse groups.
The following is a quote from Harmelin Media’s president, Mary Meder:
“Last year, amid a summer of unrest and a social justice revolution, we recognized Juneteenth for the first time as a company. This year, we are proud to expand that effort and shine a brighter light on the significance of this date for Black Americans. Over the past several years, the company has made progress in growing staff diversity, introduced DEI training and talked more frankly about issues concerning race and equality. But we acknowledge how much more there is to do to fulfill our company commitment to equity and inclusion. We salute the Black leaders within Harmelin and thank them for sharing a bit of themselves for this series of interviews, and we appreciate the work that members of the Cares and SHADE committees are doing, working together, to highlight Juneteenth.”
To celebrate Juneteenth and diversity in the company we recently interviewed African American leaders at Harmelin. Today we would like to recognize Jeffrey Barge!
What does Juneteenth mean to you?
A day of reckoning, reflection, empathy, compassion, freedom, sadness, relief, happiness, pondering; a total array of feelings, hard to describe. But, in some way, at the end of a day, a feeling of hopefulness and progression.
In your opinion, what is the most important reason for celebrating Juneteenth?
I think of it as recognizing this day as a moment in time where there was a call to cease the atrocities that were occurring. This is one of many days where I take a few moments to stop, feel, and recognize the meaning of the day, and reflect on all of the things that have occurred up to this day, and of all of the possibilities and positives that could happen for all going forward.
How would you like to see society celebrate/observe Juneteenth?
Very much as it is now, I would like to continue to see recognition of Juneteenth, and of what the significance of the day means to many.
Do you think it should be a national holiday? If so let us know why.
I don’t know if I should speak on what should or shouldn’t be a national holiday per se, however, I definitely believe that it would be great if it was. I feel that everyone in the world should all have learning points that we can study and learn from, with this day being one of many.
What has been your greatest success at Harmelin?
I guess, for me, it’s that I have been recognized for helping and doing the work. I take pride if I can help and contribute to an organization’s bottom line.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
Really, everyone who has taken action, or taken a stance, in order to help others inspires me. I hear, read and see things almost daily that inspire me when I see that there are people of all realms who are passionate, and more than willing to move this world forward and help others. This would include my parents and my family from day one.
Working with people from different backgrounds or cultures can present unique opportunities for collaboration and creativity. Please describe a time where a project or decision you made was enhanced by including diverse perspectives.
I can think of times at the school levels (grade school, high school, college), where we were tasked with working with one another to complete projects; also there were times at the companies I’ve worked for when teams were brought to work together on tasks.
In your opinion, how would you like to see your environment grow with diversity in the future?
Continued recognition of, and respect for, others.
What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?
Really, by simply listening. I see great value in listening and understanding first. I’ve heard a couple of times the expression that people have two ears but only one mouth for a reason. The reason we have the two ears is that we should be listening more that we talk. My focus is always to listen and understand first.
Positive change is necessary in our society, and we should continue to strive for it. Whether it is within a media marketing company, in our homes, our community, or our city, we must ensure that the fight for equal rights continues. While doing so, it is also important to take time and recognize those that have made such amazing changes and have been so positive in our environment. At Harmelin, we hope to accomplish this for every race and ethnicity, focusing these days on African Americans as Juneteenth approaches.
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