This Sunday, we will join many others in our community and across the country to honor Juneteenth — which commemorates the day in 1865 on which enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally received word of the Emancipation Proclamation, two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued it.

The fact that it took that long for every enslaved person to learn of their emancipation is in many ways emblematic of the work we see still before us. St. Louis possesses a great deal of prosperity, but at the same time, economic opportunity has not reached everyone in our community.

Case in point: our calculations show that if Black St. Louisans owned and started businesses at the same rate as white residents, the metro area would have an additional 8,000 businesses and 66,000 additional jobs. Economists estimated several years ago that the GDP of our metro would have been 10 percent higher — $151.3 billion instead of $137.6 billion — if not for racial disparities in household income.   

These inequities have left too many people behind and have held St. Louis back for far too long.

As the voice of St. Louis’ civic-minded business community, we know that we must play a critical role in addressing these disparities. Equitable economic growth is at the core of our mission, and while we are working every day to meet that mission, we know that there is much, much more that needs to be done to ensure that opportunities for everyone in the St. Louis metro to succeed — to raise a family, to get a high quality job, to start a business, to build wealth — are not determined by their race or zip code.

To give our team time to reflect on our mission and the challenges we must still address, our offices will be closed Monday, June 20.

We encourage each of you to commemorate Juneteenth by participating in one of the many events planned across the St. Louis region in the coming days. We have provided below a list of Juneteenth activities and events. You can also learn more about Juneteenth in this infogram our STLMade team produced in collaboration with The Griot Museum of Black History and the Missouri History Museum.

Thank you for your commitment to St. Louis and to strengthening the future for all our citizens.


Jason Hall, Chief Executive Officer        

Valerie E. Patton, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, and President, Greater St. Louis Foundation