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Nextt CEO Arun Agarwal first Indian- American on Texas’ small business board

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 Indian American
Image source: dmagazine.com

Washington: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Arun Agarwal, CEO of Nextt, the Dallas-based leader in the US home textile industry, to the Product Development and Small Business Incubator (PDSBI) Board.

The first Indian American to be appointed to the key post in the state’s history, Agarwal will hold the office until Feb 1, 2019.

The PDSBI is a revolving loan programme, administered by the Office of the Governor, and overseen by a nine-member board appointed by the Governor.

The PDSBI Fund provides financial aid for the development, production and commercialization of new or improved products and to foster the growth of small businesses in Texas.

“It is such a huge honour for me to serve on one of the Governor’s boards,” said Agarwal.

“As global business owners, it is our responsibility and civic duty to help other local small businesses survive and thrive in this global economy, and I am excited to do my part.”

Nextt is a $500 million revenue, privately-held company that provides textiles to all of the major US retailers including Dillard’s, Belk, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.

Nextt also has a robust portfolio of leading celebrity brands, such as Beautyrest, Ellen Tracy, Jessica McClintock and Royal Sateen.

The company was recently awarded the patent for “alpha cotton,” a luxurious fabric that will make sheets 30 to 40 percent cheaper than 100 percent cotton.

Nextt CEO Arun Agarwal was awarded “NRI of the Year” by TIMES NOW and ICICI Bank in 2015 and was selected as a 2014 Minority Business Leader by the Dallas Business Journal.

Agarwal’s Dallas headquartered company was ranked 17th in the 2014 Dallas 100 list of fastest growing companies selected by the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship of SMU. (Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Juneteenth: A Proclamation From The Executive Of The United States

Another Independence Day

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Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010.
Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010. VOA

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves free.”

That proclamation, June 19, 1865, was the spark for a day that has come to be known in the United States as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of U.S. slavery.

The proclamation in Texas actually came 2½ years after slavery ended with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That document, which made emancipation effective in slaveholding states January 1, 1863, was signed in the middle of the Civil War. But it was not until federal troops arrived thousands of kilometers west in Texas, two months after the official end of the war in 1965, that many Texas slaves were informed that they were free.

The reason for the delay in notification of the slaves is unclear. It could have been slow communications at a time when telephones and email did not exist; it could have been that such a proclamation could not have been enforced until federal troops arrived in Texas after the war.

Life for freed slaves

The proclamation did not immediately make life easy for freed slaves. They had to find their own work for wages and grapple with prejudice that causes racial divides in the United States today. But emancipation was a legal victory that came as welcome news to the 250,000 African-Americans who had been illegally enslaved in Texas for 30 months after the signing of the document that was meant to free them.

Today, Juneteenth supporters are still working for recognition of the holiday, which is celebrated with picnics, parades, prayer and public celebrations of African-American culture.

The holiday was once celebrated mostly in the western United States. Texas-dwellers took the holiday with them as they followed job opportunities west. But the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s brought a new surge in interest in the holiday in the East, and now 45 out of 50 states have designated the mid-June celebration as an official state holiday or day of observance. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Slaves
Slaves, Pixabay

Community celebrations

This Saturday and Sunday, many Juneteenth celebrations are taking place before the official June 19 anniversary of the proclamation. In Salisbury, Maryland, close to the eastern U.S. coast, residents held an outdoor festival featuring dancing and local crafts at a cultural center.

Community organizer Amber Green told a reporter that Juneteenth “is basically Black Independence Day.”

Juneteenth celebrations tend to be generated by the community, highlighting ties among family and friends.

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“Today is our festival,” Green said. “We have local artists, local vendors, local music, and we are just bringing the community together through good food, good music and good fun.” (VOA)