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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As we prepare for tomorrow's federal Juneteenth holiday, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Americans in Texas, our economy remains marred by the legacy of slavery and subsequent discrimination.

The big picture: This is particularly evident in the enduring wealth gap between Black and white Americans, and in how Black Americans broadly participate in the U.S. economy.

Inside the numbers: The median annual wage for Black workers is 30% lower than it is for white workers, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute and its Institute for Black Economic Mobility. Were wages to be equal, Black Americans would have around $220 billion of additional income each year.

  • Shelley Stewart III, who leads McKinsey's Institute for Black Economic Mobility, tells the Axios Re:Cap podcast: "We looked at Black Americans as residents. We looked at Black Americans as workers to understand representation and wage gaps. We looked at Black Americans as business owners, as savers and investors, and finally as consumers."
  • In each case, there was a significant financial gap between Black and white Americans, built on decades of discrimination across generations, to the persistent detriment of Black economy stability, mobility and sustainability.

Responsibility: The report argues that both the public and private sectors have intersecting roles to play in closing the wealth gap and addressing other structural inequities.

  • It didn't address the issue of reparations, but Stewart did tell Axios Re:Cap: "Significant investment is needed into Black communities. And that's going to be investment through a combination of the public sector, as well as the private sector if we're going to really make a difference on wealth. I'll let others decide the exact form of that investment."

Go deeper

Some Black leaders eye talks with police organizations

San Diego Police officer Ben Kelso, 53, talks with resident O.J. Phillips. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

A Black Baptist minister is pushing for Black communities to engage directly with police organizations on criminal justice reform — a counter to progressive groups urging radical changes.

Why it matters: Homicide rates are soaring across the country and some civil rights advocates fear they'll lose momentum on fighting systemic racism if they don't include police in reform efforts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

4 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.