What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is commemorated as the date enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were notified by federal troops that they were free. It occurred on June 19, 1865. Enslaved people in the Confederacy were free on January 1, 1863, with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, the information did not get to enslaved people in Texas until Juneteenth.
How Can Employers Celebrate Juneteenth?
Making a financial and social impact within your community is essential for business owners, large and small. To help celebrate Juneteenth as a company, I asked business leaders for their best insights on how employers can celebrate Juneteenth within their community and with their employees. From supporting Black-owned businesses to hosting an African-American guest speaker, there are several ideas that may help you bring your employees together to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth properly.
Give Employees the Day Off
Sounds simple enough, right? Giving employees the day off is a great way to show them that you value their time and are committed to celebrating Black history and culture and the significance of Juneteenth as a holiday.
Launch a Juneteenth Team-Building Event
A company can commemorate Juneteenth by launching a team-building event, where everyone is tasked with researching and presenting one fact related to the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. This can include historical facts from the time of emancipation, other milestones such as the end of the Jim Crow Era and segregation, or the modern-day challenges we still face. Let everyone know that you want to make a safe environment for uncomfortable conversations and stay positive. Use it as an opportunity for learning, growth, and bonding.
- Dennis Consorte, Snackable Solutions
Invite an African American Guest Speaker
Invite an African American guest speaker to the company to discuss their inspirational story of how they achieved success as a black professional. Research the speaker and make sure they reflect your company's niche or values. Lastly, inviting a leader within your industry will have a better impact and significance when reflecting on their success and the importance of Juneteenth.
- Yooseok gong, Ohora
Line Up Activities To Help Employees Reflect and Give
A company can recognize and solemnize Juneteenth by providing opportunities for reflection and giving. Therefore, you need to do some legwork for your employees and source a list of numerous meaningful ways they can get involved in celebrating Juneteenth. Moreover, you can also curate a company-wide resource list, which will help employees critically contemplate race and host breakout rooms to discuss what they read and listened to. Finally, give your employees a list of social justice companies or civil rights to donate to, and then match the donations to a specific dollar amount.
- Caroline Lee, CocoSign
An excellent way for a company to celebrate Juneteenth is to support Black-owned businesses in their communities. And as every business is unique and has its own needs, the first step is asking what they need. So reach out to companies in your community and ask how you can help. And then get other local enterprises involved to provide an even greater level of support. Black-owned businesses and communities can thrive together when everyone has equal access to a diverse range of local resources that offer opportunities for support and growth.
- Chris Gadek, AdQuick
Go on Museum Tours
Taking a tour of a museum can be a powerful way to celebrate Juneteenth. The holiday is rich in history, and touring a museum that delves into slavery and the fight for freedom can be an immersive way to educate employees. This activity is especially impactful if a nearby museum has an exhibit dedicated to Juneteenth.
- Tasia Duske, Museum Hack
Celebrate Through Social Media
Our brand uses social media to celebrate Juneteenth. For instance, we post Instagram stories using Instagram stickers. Instagram has stickers to help users acknowledge holidays such as Juneteenth. Since Juneteenth relates to freedom, we also use other related Instagram stickers on our stories. These include "Buy Black" and similar stickers. We also use TikTok to recognize holidays. TikTok users add hashtags to their content. Many TikTokers post holiday-related videos with hashtags for interested users to find during the holidays. In a video, our brand will wish people a happy Juneteenth.
- Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging
Choose a Way To Actually Celebrate Together
I think companies should actually celebrate the holiday! Not just observe it or recognize it with a low-impact acknowledgment. Like any major holiday, it should be celebrated from the CEO to the newest junior staffer. Too often, we see companies go through the motions of acknowledging certain holidays, making sure they check the box. Ultimately this will be seen for what it is; pandering. Employees want to see sincere engagement on these issues, and Juneteenth is no exception. Communicate with your employees and get their feedback about what a meaningful celebration of Juneteenth would look like. Then, follow through! Don't be the company that does not take employee feedback to heart, especially with something as meaningful as Juneteenth and everything it represents.
- Devin Schumacher, SERP
Play Trivia Games
Trivia is a great way to celebrate Juneteenth in the office. Many employees are unfamiliar with the history and reasons for the holiday, and trivia games are a fun and informal way to educate staff without feeling lecture-y. Not to mention, trivia is a great team activity and an opportunity for team bonding.
- Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
Throw Virtual Parties
One way a company can recognize and celebrate Juneteenth is to throw a virtual party for the occasion. Since the holiday falls halfway through the year in June, this can be great timing to gather employees– Christmas does not need to be the only corporate holiday event. During your virtual party, you can play trivia, display relevant virtual backgrounds, enjoy reimbursable takeout from a Black-owned restaurant, and get to know colleagues while reflecting on the reasons behind Juneteenth.
- Carly Hill, VirtualHolidayParty.com
How are you planning to celebrate and commemorate Juneteenth at your place of work?