June 18, 2021
Juneteenth National Independence Day is celebrated nationwide on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. We chatted with Director of Business Continuity Hope M.
Hope helps coordinate Juneteenth celebrations in her community, so she shared some background about the holiday, and even a personal connection to the holiday.
Hope, what brought you to SNC and why do you wake up excited to work every morning?
My former mentor referred me for a position in SNC to head up the newly created International Security department. It was an opportunity to lead the strategic planning and internal security policy for Sierra Nevada International Security Operations, and I loved it from day one.
I developed procedural guidance and instructions for classified international programs, international travel, foreign visitors, international transfer of US and foreign classified information and more. I implemented assessments and reports identifying operational safety risks and vulnerabilities that could disrupt or affect the business and our people. Keeping our people and resources safe and secure is my number one priority.
Share a little about your job; what’s a day in the life like? You were recently promoted!
This position is also new to SNC and I’m excited to lead our Business Continuity Program. Business Continuity planning revolves around the actions we at SNC must take during and following an event (cyber intrusion or any disaster) to ensure that our business can function as usual. My job is make sure we have strategies and procedures in place so SNC can keep running in the event of a crisis and return to full functionality when the crisis ends.
What does Juneteenth mean to you?
Unfortunately, Juneteenth isn’t regularly taught in most high school history classes. I learned about it in an African American studies class I took in college. For those that don’t know, the emancipation proclamation might have gone into effect on Jan 1, 1863, but it took more than two years for that news to reach the last remaining enslaved people of Galveston, Texas. A mostly Black troop of union soldiers freed over 250,000 slaves when they occupied the gulf coast city on June 19, 1865, which is now considered to be the day slavery finally ended in the United States, and is celebrated as Juneteenth. Anybody who values freedom should embrace Juneteenth.
Tell us something unique about your heritage – or a little known fact about you?
My ancestors formed the first self-governed town of freed Africans in the country. On November 7, 1861, Union forces attacked two Confederate forts and the Sea Islands of South Carolina near Port Royal. “The Battle of Port Royal” later drove the Confederate forces to retreat to the mainland. One island, Hilton Head Island, immediately became the headquarters for the Union Army.
After the Emancipation, General Ormsby Mitchel dedicated a large parcel of land on Hilton Head to the newly freed Blacks so they could cultivate it and govern. Individuals and families were each given a quarter acre lot and material to build a home. We elected our own officials, created our own system of law, built three churches, four stores and established the first compulsory school system in the state of South Carolina. Education was required for every child from age 6 to 15. At its height, Mitchelville boasted over 3,000 residents. My great-great-great grandfather Henry Mitchell and his wife Rosa raised 8 children there. Later, many of the residents started moving inland towards the area of Squire Pope and Beaufort and developers came in and Hilton Head is what it is today, however, we will always remember our town of Mitchelville as, “Where Freedom Began.”
What would you like your SNC colleagues to take away from Juneteenth celebration?
That freedom of enslaved people didn’t really happen right away like people think. It took two years for the news to travel to Texas, which was the last Confederate state to hear it. That is important to note, because there was still a lot of resistance to the ending of slavery and slavery was horrific and brutal.
The most important thing I would like my SNC colleagues to take away is how important we all are in society, and to recognize that there has been historic injustices. Juneteenth is an occasion to remember the emancipation of human beings from slavery and bondage, and that is worthy of celebrating.