Exploring Industrial Control Panels

When it comes to the debate on what what is the most crucial device in industrial automation; there exists and spectrum of varying opinions. Some argue that the VFD’s (Variable Frequency Drives) play the most crucial role. Others would believe that it is the motors themselves seeing as without their power and movement nothing can get done.  Ultimately all components in industrial automaton are crucial. However unless an operator can give commands for a function, the entire process doesn’t happen.  In order to achieve this, the operator has to be able to give commands to a symphony of devices. He conducts orchestra of machinery on when and how to play.  This where the industrial control panel comes into play.

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What is a VFD?

Have you ever used a dimmer on a lamp or room light and wondered how you were able to adjust the brightness of light so easily? How about a running fan in your room on a hot day? Ever wondered what it was that allowed you to change how fast the fan went? Maybe you work at an assembly plant, and see the machines moving and performing tasks with precise speed and timing. Has it ever crossed your mind as to how these giant machinations can do such complicated things and not breakdown or catastrophically collide into one another? That is the wonder known as the Variable Frequency Drive or VFD.

So WTF is a VFD?

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), alternatively referred to as Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) or Adjustable Frequency Drives (AFDs), constitute a fundamental aspect of industrial automation. These electronic devices are meticulously engineered to govern the speed and torque of electric motors. They achieve tha by manipulating the frequency and voltage supplied to them. By exerting control over these parameters, VFDs grant the ability to finely regulate motor speeds. This results in optimized operational efficiency and performance across a wide array of industrial applications.

In the realm of industrial automation, VFDs offer a multifaceted range of advantages. Among their most prominent benefits is the potential for substantial energy conservation. By permitting motors to operate at lower speeds when maximum power output isn’t essential, VFDs contribute to marked reductions in power consumption, thereby fostering an environment of heightened energy efficiency. Moreover, these drives contribute significantly to the realm of process control and productivity enhancement. Through the implementation of gradual acceleration and deceleration of motors, VFDs curtail mechanical stress and wear on machinery, leading to prolonged equipment lifespan and diminished maintenance expenditures. Their capacity for intricate adjustments further facilitates seamless synchronization with other processes and components, ultimately culminating in elevated product quality and consistency within the sphere of manufacturing and production.

A Brief History in VFD’s

The history of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) traces back to the mid-20th century. During this time advancements in power electronics and control systems set the stage for their development. The initial concept of controlling motor speeds by varying the frequency of the power supply emerged in the 1960s. However, the state of electronics at the time limited the technology. The 1970s saw the advent of solid-state devices like thyristors and later insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs). These components enabled more efficient and precise control over motor speeds by allowing the modulation of voltage and frequency.

By the 1980s, the electronics industry had made significant strides, making VFDs more practical and cost-effective. Advances in microprocessors and digital control algorithms led to the emergence of more sophisticated and versatile VFD systems. These drives gained traction in various industries where precise speed control and energy efficiency were crucial. Some examples include HVAC systems, pumps, and conveyors. The turn of the millennium saw further improvements in power electronics, enabling higher switching frequencies and greater efficiency. Additionally, advancements in communication protocols and networking facilitated seamless integration of VFDs into larger industrial automation systems.

How Are VFD’s Used

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) operate based on the principles of pulse width modulation (PWM) and voltage-frequency control. These drives consist of three main components: a rectifier, a DC bus, and an inverter. The process begins with the rectifier, which converts the incoming AC power supply into DC voltage. This DC voltage is then stored in the DC bus, creating a stable power source. The inverter stage is where the magic happens. The VFD generates variable frequency AC output by rapidly switching the DC voltage from the bus into a series of pulses through the inverter’s transistors. The width of these pulses determines the effective voltage and frequency delivered to the motor, effectively controlling its speed and torque.

To elaborate on the concept of pulse width modulation (PWM), imagine turning a light switch on and off very rapidly. When the switch is on, the light receives full power, and when it’s off, the light receives no power. By adjusting the duration of the on and off states, you can regulate the average power delivered to the light, thus controlling its brightness. Similarly, VFDs use PWM to regulate motor speed. The width of the output pulses corresponds to the voltage and frequency applied to the motor. By adjusting this pulse width, VFDs can provide a wide range of speeds, allowing precise control over the motor’s performance.

Voltage-frequency control is another fundamental aspect of VFD operation. The relationship between voltage and frequency needs to be maintained within certain limits to prevent overloading the motor. As the frequency changes, the VFD adjusts the voltage to maintain an appropriate ratio. For example, as the frequency is reduced to slow down the motor, the VFD decreases the voltage proportionally to ensure the motor’s torque remains consistent. Conversely, at higher frequencies, the VFD increases the voltage to sustain the motor’s torque output. This coordinated adjustment of voltage and frequency ensures the motor operates within its safe and efficient operational range, enabling seamless control over its speed and performance in various industrial applications.

What Uses a VFD?

Implementing VFDs in industrial settings involves careful planning and integration to harness their benefits effectively. First, a thorough assessment of the application’s requirements and the specific motor system is necessary. This includes considering factors like load characteristics, torque demands, and desired speed ranges. Once the appropriate VFD is selected, the installation process involves connecting the drive to the motor and the power source. It’s essential to ensure proper grounding, wiring, and following manufacturer guidelines for correct setup.

After physical installation, configuring the VFD settings becomes crucial. This involves programming parameters such as motor nameplate data, acceleration and deceleration rates, maximum and minimum speed limits, and control modes (e.g., open-loop or closed-loop control). Advanced VFDs might also offer features like communication interfaces (such as Modbus or Ethernet) to integrate with larger automation systems for centralized control and monitoring. Careful tuning of these parameters ensures that the VFD operates optimally, delivering the desired motor performance while minimizing energy consumption and wear on equipment.

Implementing VFDs also requires considerations for safety and maintenance. Properly trained personnel should handle VFD installation and configuration to prevent accidents. Regular maintenance and periodic inspections are necessary to ensure the drives and associated components are functioning correctly. Monitoring for anomalies, such as overheating or unusual noises, can help detect potential issues early and prevent costly downtime. As technology evolves, the implementation of VFDs might also involve exploring predictive maintenance strategies that leverage data analytics and sensors to anticipate maintenance needs and enhance system reliability.


VFDs stand as a testament to synergy between technological innovation and industrial efficiency. VFDs have transformed the way we control and optimize electric motor-driven systems. Not only do VFDs empower industries to achieve unparalleled precision and performance through dyanmic controls. They also contribute significantly to energy conservation, equipment longevity, and process refinement. As industries continue to evolve and prioritize sustainability, VFDs will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of this evolution. VFDs continue to drive innovation, enhance productivity, and leading to a more efficient and environmentally conscious industrial landscape.

The Internet of Things

On the surface, The Internet of Things (IoT) may sound like tech jargon for something really complicated and sophisticated. In a way that is true when you get into the technical aspects of “how”. The formal definition of the IoT is: the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Fundamentally however, IoT is just a really fancy way of saying all our home devices and technology are capable of connecting and talking to one another.

What makes up the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is often characterized by different features. While all these features may not be in every device, generally all devices have more than one of these.

Devices and Sensors

Device and sensors describe physical objects equipped with communication interfaces that collect (sensors) and transmit (actuators) data. These devices can range from simple household appliances like thermostats and smart lights to more complex industrial machinery and vehicles.


IoT devices rely on various communication technologies to transmit data. These technologies can include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks, Zigbee, LoRa, and more. The choice of connectivity depends on factors like range, power consumption, and data bandwidth.

Data Processing and Analytics

The massive amount of data generated by IoT devices needs to be processed, analyzed, and interpreted to extract meaningful insights. This often involves using cloud computing resources and advanced analytics techniques, such as machine learning, to derive valuable information from the collected data.

Cloud Computing

IoT devices typically send their data to cloud-based platforms for storage, processing, and analysis. Cloud computing provides the scalability and computational power required to handle the vast quantities of data generated by IoT devices.

Applications and Services

IoT data creates a wide range of applications and services. These can include remote monitoring and control of devices, predictive maintenance of machinery, smart homes and cities, healthcare monitoring, environmental monitoring, and more.

Security and Privacy

When it comes to the collection and transmission of sensitive data, security and privacy are major concerns. In IoT, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the data is crucial.


The seamless interaction of various IoT devices and systems is essential for the success of IoT ecosystems. Standards and protocols ensure compatibility and smooth communication between devices from different manufacturers.

The History of Things

The Internet of Things as a concept spans back several decades. However, its development into a widespread and recognizable technology trend began in the late 20th century.

Pre-Internet Origins (1960s – 1980s)

The idea of interconnected devices predates the internet itself. In the 1960s, early computer networks like ARPANET laid the foundation for later

The Term “Internet of Things” (1990s)

Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer, coined the term “Internet of Things” in the late 1990s. Ashton was working on radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which used small chips to communicate data over short distances. He used the term to describe a system where physical objects connected to the internet, sharing data without human intervention.

Development in the Early 2000’s

 In the early 2000s, developments in sensor technology, wireless communication, and data processing began to pave the way for practical IoT applications. This decade saw the emergence of various projects and initiatives exploring IoT concepts, including smart homes, industrial automation, and RFID-based supply chain management.

The 2010’s to the Present

The proliferation of wireless communication technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks, played a crucial role in enabling widespread IoT adoption. As these technologies became more accessible and cost-effective, IoT devices could communicate over longer distances and with greater efficiency.

It also gained momentum in specific industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture. Here, sensor-equipped machinery and data analytics improved efficiency and productivity. The concept of “Industrial IoT” (IIoT) emerged, highlighting the use of IoT technology in industrial processes and automation.

By seamlessly connecting machinery, sensors, and control systems, IoT has enabled the creation of “smart factories” that operate with heightened responsiveness and optimization. Real-time data from IoT-enabled sensors monitors every facet of production, offering insights into variables such as temperature, pressure, and quality. This data-driven approach empowers manufacturers to implement predictive maintenance strategies, identifying potential equipment failures before they occur and minimizing downtime. This results in a substantial reduction in operational costs, increased productivity, and enhanced product quality, as intelligent automated systems replaced manual processes. These systems can adapt to changing conditions in real time.

Moreover, IoT’s impact extends beyond the confines of individual factories. Supply chains have become more transparent and interconnected, as IoT-enabled tracking devices provide real-time visibility into the movement and status of goods at every stage. This heightened visibility enhances inventory management, reduces delays, and allows for agile responses to market demands. The convergence of IoT with advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence offers the potential for more sophisticated decision-making. Manufacturers can optimize production schedules based on predictive demand trends, allocate resources efficiently, and even customize products in response to specific customer preferences. As the synergy between IoT and industrial automation deepens, it is reshaping traditional manufacturing paradigms and propelling industries into a future defined by intelligent, interconnected, and agile production ecosystems.


The IoT continues to expand its influence across various sectors, including healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and more. As technology advances, the IoT is becoming more integrated with other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing. Edge computing allows data processing to occur closer to the source, while also reducing latency and improving real-time decision-making.

While the IoT has come a long way, challenges remain, including concerns about security, privacy, data governance, and the need for continued standardization. However, as technology continues to evolve, the IoT poises an even more significant role in shaping the way we interact with the digital and physical worlds.

The Evolution Sensors and Actuators

Over the years sensors and actuators play a crucial role in the world of industrial automation. They transformed the manual processes into highly efficient, automated systems. This is the run down of their history and evolution and how they are integral the automation industry.

A Tale of Two Components

What are Sensors?

A sensor is an electrical instrument that monitors and measures physical aspects of an environment and then sends an electrical signal to a control center when it detects pre-determined conditions. On the most basic level, sensors turn physical inputs into electrical signals that are output to the control center. Sensors can be used to monitor the health of equipment and status of a sensitive environment. One example is a sensor that can alert temperature changes to an operator if a unit gets too hot.

What are Actuators?

In contrast, actuators take electrical signals from control modules and turn them into physical outputs. They can perform a wide range of functions, from turning rotors and valves to virtually anything else. You can program them to control almost any physical action. An example of an actuator is a shutoff valve. When it receives a signal from a sensor or control module, it closes the valve. The actuator receives the input of an electrical signal and turns it into a physical action. 

The History of Sensors and Actuators

Both sensors and and actuators have their roots going as far back as the early 20th century. Basic switches and relays served as the first primitive forms of automation. These simple devices were used to detect changes in physical properties, such as temperature, pressure, and position, and to initiate mechanical actions accordingly. While this technology had very limited functionality at the time, they paved the way for the future of automation.

Pneumatic Actuators

In the early stages of automation, pneumatic actuators dominated the landscape due to their simplicity and reliability. Compressed air was used to control mechanical movements, making them ideal for industrial applications. However, the advent of electric actuators brought about a significant shift. Electric actuators, driven by motors, offered finer control, quieter operation, and the ability to integrate with digital control systems.

Sensors at the Turn of the Century

By the mid-20th century, sensors experienced a revolutionary transformation. Devices like thermocouples, strain gauges, and pressure sensors emerged, enabled precise measurements and real-time data acquisition. The integration of these sensors into industrial processes improved process control laying the foundation for more sophisticated automation systems.

Microprocessors Take the Stage

The introduction of microprocessors and microcontrollers in the 1970s and 1980s marked a turning point in sensor and actuator technology. These tiny computational devices allowed for on-board processing, enabling sensors to not only gather data but also interpret and transmit it intelligently. Smart sensors emerged, capable of self-calibration, data filtering, and communication with other devices, making them indispensable for complex automation tasks.

Sensors and Actuators Evolve

Integrating PLC’s

The 1980s brought sensors and actuators closer to the heart of industrial automation with the widespread adoption of PLCs. PLCs acted as the brain of automation systems, receiving input from sensors, processing it, and triggering actions through actuators. This integration simplified automation programming and allowed for more extensive and flexible control over industrial processes.

Internet Networking

The rise of the internet and networking technologies allowed sensors and actuators to communicate on a broader scale. Fieldbus protocols and industrial communication standards, such as Modbus, Profibus, and Ethernet/IP, facilitated seamless data exchange between devices and supervisory systems. This enhanced connectivity allowed for remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and real-time process optimization.


From the simplicity of basic switches to the intelligence of smart devices, sensors and actuators continue to play a vital role in shaping the world of industrial automation. We can expect sensors and actuators to become even more integrated, intelligent, and indispensable, driving the industry towards unprecedented levels of efficiency and automation.

Job Growth in an Era of Human – Machine Collaboration

In the past we’ve covered the rise of automation in the industry. More specifically we’ve talked about the underlying anxieties of job loss and they human element being replaced as AI becomes more advanced. However, there’s never really been much coverage in regards to how this uncharted relationship between human and machine could lead to long term job growth. While the outlook of the human race keeping our jobs and being able to make a livable wage in the world of machines looks pretty grim. We have yet to be in the dystopian sci-fi world of Terminator. On the other hand, the discussion about the potential for job growth is seldom discussed. Too often we bring the machine aspect of automation into focus, but we don’t often talk about the human potential. These are a few ways Human-Machine collaboration becomes advantageous to job growth.

Job Creation in Automation Industries

As industries embrace automation, there is an increased demand for professionals with expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and system integration. The development, deployment, and maintenance of automation systems require a skilled workforce, leading to job opportunities in these emerging fields.

Prioritizing Higher Value Tasks

Automation allows humans to transition from repetitive, mundane tasks to more complex and value-added responsibilities. As machines handle routine operations, humans can focus on tasks that require creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. This shift empowers employees to engage in challenging and fulfilling work

Skill Development

The introduction of automation technologies necessitates upskilling and reskilling of the existing workforce. Employees can receive training in areas such as system operation, maintenance, programming, data analysis, and process optimization. This investment in workforce development enhances employee skill sets, making them more valuable in the job market and fostering job growth.

New Job Roles and Specialization

Collaboration between humans and machines often leads to the emergence of new job roles and specializations. These include automation technicians, robot coordinators, data analysts, machine learning specialists, process optimization experts, and human-robot interaction designers. Job growth occurs as organizations create positions to address the evolving needs of their automated systems.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The rise of automation provides opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. Individuals can develop automation solutions, create startups focused on specialized automation services, or establish consulting firms that help organizations adopt and optimize automation technologies. These entrepreneurial ventures contribute to job creation and economic growth.

Support and Maintenance Roles

As automation systems become more prevalent, the need for support and maintenance personnel also increases. Skilled technicians are required to install, configure, troubleshoot, and repair automation equipment. This includes tasks such as sensor calibration, programming updates, and diagnosing system issues. The growth in automation installations leads to job opportunities in these support and maintenance roles.

Collaborative Robotics

Collaborative robots, or cobots, are designed to work alongside humans, enhancing productivity and safety. These robots require human operators for programming, monitoring, and collaboration. As the adoption of cobots increases, job opportunities arise for individuals skilled in operating and coordinating the interactions between humans and robots.

Job Expansion

The adoption of automation in one industry often leads to job growth in related industries. For example, the increased use of automation in manufacturing can drive job growth in industries such as component manufacturing, robotics engineering, software development, and logistics.

Final Thoughts

While automation can lead to job displacement in certain areas, the overall impact of human-machine collaboration tends to be positive for job growth. By leveraging the strengths of humans and machines, organizations can create new roles, upskill their workforce, and drive innovation, contributing to the growth of the job market in automation-related industries.

Celebrating Independence Day

No, not the 1996 Roland Emrich sci-fi film. We’re talking about one of the most sacred holidays in the history of this nation. As someone who’ s been a United States citizen all my life, 4th of July has always just been another holiday happening every year. It exist as the holiday characterized by fireworks, cookouts, hot summer days, and the unrelenting torrent of patriotic symbols. My perception of the holiday has always been: ” this holiday the US celebrates for winning its freedom from the British. ” While that element definitely is the core of the holiday, the traditions and symbols that are synonymous with the holiday have been a progression over time.

President Whitmore giving his iconic speech in the 1996 film “Independence Day”

Defeating the British

A New Nation Declared
The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4th declaring freedom from British rule.

The history of July 4th in the United States traces back to the American Revolution. That day the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from British rule on July 4, 1776. This historic event, known as the Declaration of Independence, became adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The document, primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson, expressed the colonies’ grievances against King George III asserting their right to self-governance. The signing of the Declaration marked the birth of the United States of America. Since then July 4th marks the day of Independence Day celebration.

A War Filled with Struggle

The war of course wasn’t one that came easily. The British held a military advantage over the colonists. While the colonies did form the Continental Army in 1775. It mainly comprised of unseasoned soldiers who at best had some militia training. Lack of training and scarce supplies and resources became a prevalent thing. This caused the Continental Army many defeats to the General Cornwallis and the British crown. However, they say that every dog has his day, and for the Continental Army, that dog had a few days. One of those days came on September 19, 1777, at the Battle of Saratoga. There, American forces secured a crucial victory. This victory not only boosted morale among the troops. It also gave enough confidence for France to ally with the colonists. This in turn gave the Continental Army much needed military support.

Victory at Last!

Another pivotal moment came September 28, 1781 with the Siege of Yorktown. American and French forces, under the command of General George Washington and General Rochambeau, laid siege to the British army under General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia. The combined American and French troops effectively trapped Cornwallis and his soldiers, forcing them to surrender on October 19, 1781. The British defeat at Yorktown was a decisive blow to their military campaign. It led to negotiations for peace, which ultimately resulted in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, officially recognizing the independence of the United States and marking the end of British rule.

The First Celebration (and Beyond)

While celebrations most likely did pop off shortly after the official defeat of the British to the now United State. The newly established United States celebrated the first Independence Day holiday on July 4th, 1777. One year after the original signing of the Declaration of Independence. Early celebrations included public readings of the Declaration, military parades, and fireworks. In the following decades, July 4th festivities grew in popularity and became an important national holiday.

By the early 19th century, celebrations featured elaborate fireworks displays, patriotic speeches, and various community events. Politicians capitalized on the holiday using it as an occasion for political gatherings and speeches. Often these speeches would be about reinforcing the values of liberty and freedom.

By the late 19th century, July 4th celebrations underwent another transformation with the rise of industrialization and urbanization. Parades, picnics, and outdoor festivities became more common. Communities organized larger events to bring people together. France gifted The Statue of Liberty, to the United States on July 4, 1884. This further solidified the holiday’s association with national symbols and American identity. Over time, July 4th also became an opportunity to honor military veterans and express gratitude for their service well into the modern era.

The War of 1812

While July 4th is mostly connected and associated with the Revolutionary War. There is a lot of its history encompassing the War of 1812 as well. The War of 1812 was a significant conflict between the United States and Great Britain. It lasted from June 18, 1812 to February 17, 1815.

It was primarily driven by several factors. This included American grievances over British imprisonment of American sailors, trade restrictions, and British support of Native American tribes resisting American expansion. In general the War of 1812 often comprised of a number of skirmishes between American and British forces. One very notable battle resulted in the British capture and burning of Washington, D.C. This included the White House and the Capitol, in 1814. As demoralizing as having the capital fall siege to a foreign army may seem. It actually galvanized American forces. In 1815 , General Andrew Jackson led a major decisive victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

Although the War of 1812 ended with no definitive victor. It did solidify the United States’ place in the world as a legitimate nation. This let other superpowers at the time know that indeed, the “United States ain’t noth’n to f**k with. ” The War of 1812 invoked plenty of feelings of both patriotism and nationalism. While observing the bombardment of Fort McHenry, writer Francis Scott Key felt inspired to author “The Defense of Fort M’Henry”. However, that title was mid at best. So FSK later sampled his lyrics with the song “To Anacreon in Heaven” and made “The Star Spangled Banner”. That song turned out to be such a banger that Congress later adopted it in 1931 as the national anthem.

1816 portrait by Paul de Rapin depicting the British burning Washington.

July 4th Today

Example of symbols used in 4th of July

Since the early years of its inception the meaning of July 4th has transcended its original purpose of celebration. Many view the holiday as a time to relax, takes trips with family, and cracking open beers with friends beside a hot grill. For many July 4th is a nice paid day off work and extending the weekend. However, the core of the holiday is still one that is rooted in patriotism. SFK’s 1814 bopper gets national play. Vast swaths of lawns across the US become adorned with red, white, and blue themed symbols. Then at night somewhere in rural America. Just before midnight. A young man will be rushed to the ER with burns and injuries sustained from an improper fireworks discharge fireworks. The pain will be intense. So will the hospital bill. But for freedom, it will be worth it.

Let’s Talk About Juneteenth

Let’s Talk About Juneteenth

Cultural Significance

Juneteenth is a federal holiday that holds a significant place in American history. The historical significance of this day lies in its commemoration as the true end of slavery in the United States. As a cultural symbol, Juneteenth stands as a testament to the resilience and perseverance of African Americans throughout the history of slavery and their continued fight for freedom. The delayed news of emancipation highlighted the challenges faced by African Americans and their enduring struggle for equality.

The cultural significance of Juneteenth extends beyond its historical roots. It serves as a day of celebration, reflection, and education. Celebrations often include community gatherings, parades, music, food, and artistic expressions. African Americans honor their heritage, promote unity, and educate others about the history and legacy of slavery. Additionally, Juneteenth serves as a platform for candid discussions on racial equality and social justice in the United States.


Galveston, Texas

The origins and historical context of Juneteenth traces back to June 19, 1865 when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas.

Upon his arrival, General Granger delivered General Order No. 3, which proclaimed “that all slaves are free.” This announcement was met with jubilation and profound emotion by the African American community in Galveston, as they finally learned of their emancipation. The news spread rapidly, igniting a wave of celebration among enslaved people in Galveston.

Newspaper snippet from the Galveston Daily News announcing General Granger’s General Order No. 3

Sadly, this crucial news of freedom came two and a half years after the Union issued the Emancipation Proclamation. General Granger’s arrival in Galveston marked a pivotal moment, as Texas was the last Confederate state to receive the news of emancipation. This delayed message led to Juneteenth becoming a symbolic day of liberation and celebration.

Spreading the Holiday

The first celebration of Juneteenth traces back to 1866 in the rural South. However during an event known as the Great Migration when many African Americans left southern states and headed north in search of better economic and quality of life opportunities. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, these events became characterized by gatherings of food and celebration of art and expression.

Juneteenth in the Modern Era

The 1940s through the 60s were tumultuous to say the least for the holiday. The wider movement for Juneteenth became overshadowed by events such as World War II and the Civil Rights movement. It finally regained its traction in the 70s but only recently gained mainstream momentum the past few years. In fact, Juneteenth only recently gained federal recognition in 2021. It stands as the first federal holiday announced since Martin Luther King Jr. day in 1983.

Juneteenth Inc.

Juneteenth and Companies

The holiday gained wider recognition and visibility in the corporate world following the racial justice movements of 2020. Events such as the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests, prompted many companies to reevaluate their diversity and inclusion efforts. Organizations recognized the importance of acknowledging and honoring Juneteenth as a significant milestone in the fight for civil rights. . Observing Juneteenth provided companies an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and engage in meaningful conversations around racial equity.

The widespread adoption of Juneteenth celebrations by companies can also be attributed to the efforts of grassroots organizations, employees, and activists advocating for the recognition of the holiday. Through petitions, public campaigns, and internal advocacy, employees and external stakeholders called upon businesses to officially observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday or a day of reflection and education. Many companies responded to these demands by granting employees a day off or organizing educational events and activities to commemorate the holiday. This collective pressure from within and outside the organizations played a pivotal role in motivating companies to embrace Juneteenth as an important day in American history.

Company Controversies (The Walmart Debacle)

While the optics of mainstreaming Juneteenth can be seen as largely positive, embracing the holiday has not been without hurdles.

Walmart’s infamous Juneteenth ice cream sparked major controversy.

In 2022, commerce giant, Walmart came under public scrutiny after releasing a red velvet flavored ice cream to promote Juneteenth. This decision was by in large received negatively with detractors criticizing Walmart for commercializing a holiday meant to symbolize liberation. In addition many were quick to point out the problematic nature of the retail giant capitalizing on the holiday. Of course they did so as Black-owned ice cream companies had been releasing flavors celebrating the holiday for years.

In response to the backlash, Walmart rolled back the product and issued an apology. However,as tone deaf as Walmart’s decision seemed to be, it wasn’t an isolated incident. Multiple companies attempted to capitalize off Juneteenth and received similar push back.


“American independence” stands as both the most agreeable, yet most contentious topic in the United States. Feelings and opinions on this topic especially ramps up when discussing July 4th, federally recognized as Independence Day. When the conversation about American independence regarding this day gets discussed, the argument arises of “Who truly gained independence?” There exists this long standing notion that while July 4th embodies this nation’s independence from British rule, it leaves out the entire story of the enslaved.

Juneteenth serves as a way for the descendants of the enslaved, to not only tell their story, but also celebrate their tribulations after facing overwhelming trials. While it isn’t the pinnacle of equity, recognizing Juneteenth serves as another bend towards justice in that moral arc that Dr King passionately spoke of in 1968.