Chevron Richmond celebrates freedom, community on Juneteenth

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Chevron Richmond celebrates freedom, community on Juneteenth
All photos by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

About 300 Chevron Richmond employees recently came together for a colorful celebration of Juneteenth.

They enjoyed live music from Vibe Check, lunch from Slow Hand BBQ, giveaways, a raffle and a bit of trivia to remind them of the importance of Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery.

While Juneteenth is a relatively new federal holiday, the occasion has been celebrated at Chevron Richmond for nearly 25 years.

That’s in large part thanks to the Chevron Black Employee Network (BEN), one of 12 company-sponsored networks that exist to provide employees from minority or underserved groups with increased access to opportunities for career development, mentoring, company participation and community involvement. BEN additionally invites colleagues and community members to an annual Black History Awareness Celebration in February and provides scholarships to students at local schools.

Danielle Cuspard, a lab analyst and co-site coordinator for BEN in Richmond, said the Juneteenth celebration is “a way for us to connect with the refinery and the research personnel at the Richmond Technology Center, and also show how we celebrate Juneteenth here in our community.”

Danielle Cuspard

 “Since 2021, when President Biden made Juneteenth a nationally recognized federal holiday, there’s been more support and sponsorships for the occasion,” Cuspard said. “It’s very important for people to know its historical significance and relevance.

Xavier Swopes, who works in Maintenance and Reliability at Chevron Richmond, believes the events held by the BEN help raise awareness about issues of the past, and what’s being done in the present to shape a better future.

“This celebration gives us all an opportunity to come out and enjoy the Juneteenth celebration while seeing what it signifies to our community,” Swopes said.

Lucia Watson, who chairs the Chevron Richmond BEN scholarship program, echoed Swopes’ sentiments.

“It’s an important day for all of us to remember our history, move forward, and to spread the news that this is a celebration of life, a celebration of all cultures and all people,” Watson said.

The big prize for raffle this year was fitting for the occasion: Tickets to the Chevron-sponsored Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo in Castro Valley, the nation’s lone African-American rodeo, which is coming up July 13-14.