I am proud to work for a company that is steadfast in its commitment to improving the world. Whether that’s through reducing gun violence, preventing rhino poaching, or building out initiatives to boost community safety, ShotSpotter continually demonstrates it’s a trailblazing organization that serves as a positive force for change.
The main word I’d like to emphasize here is “continually,” as ShotSpotter understands that progress towards making the world a better place is the result of dynamic innovation, iteration, and reflection. Reflection helps us to increase our awareness of and sensitivity to important social issues so that we can continue to evolve, both as individuals and as a company.
To facilitate this evolution, ShotSpotter implemented a new holiday (known as a Social Awareness Holiday) in 2020, in which employees select one important social and historical event as a paid holiday to reflect on. This creates an opportunity for our team to gain greater appreciation and awareness about that particular event and its significance.
In 2020, ShotSpotter decided to observe Juneteenth as a permanent company holiday. Additionally, the company decided to pick a second Social Awareness Holiday that varies each year depending on a company vote. After discussing several important historical and social milestones, the company has decided to observe “Bloody Sunday” today as the 2022 Social Awareness Holiday. This is in recognition of the over 600 marchers that activist John Lewis led across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where they faced brutal attacks by state troopers. The historical event remains a testament to the power of perseverance.
For those who are unfamiliar, here is a bit more context regarding “Bloody Sunday”:
Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, little had been done in some parts of the state of Alabama to ensure African Americans had the basic right to vote. In Dallas County, Alabama, African Americans made up more than half of the population, yet accounted for just 2 percent of registered voters. After months of peaceful demonstrations led to thousands of arrests and eventual bloodshed, civil rights leaders planned a 54-mile march on March 7, 1965, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. However, protestors were thwarted by state troopers when they approached the site of Edmund Pettus Bridge and viciously attacked with billy clubs, sticks, and tear gas. Television cameras captured the entire assault and turned the local protest into a civil rights event. Two weeks later, a federal court order permitted the protest, and voting rights marchers left Selma on March 21 and arrived in Montgomery four days later, ultimately mobilizing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The events around “Bloody Sunday” remind us that progress is not static, and not simple: sometimes, advocating for change might feel like we are taking two steps forward and three steps back. But with persistence and conviction, anything is possible.
I am grateful to ShotSpotter for giving us a day to reflect on this important moment in history, and I look forward to sharing details next year when the company chooses another historical event as the Social Awareness Holiday for 2023.