On June 19th, 1865, a Union General named Gordon Granger arrived in Texas and announced that all enslaved people were free. This was two years after President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. African Americans have recognized and celebrated this day since the late 1800s. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that the US government designated it a federal holiday.
For many Black communities, Juneteenth celebrations come in various ways, such as parades, live music, parties, activism, and education, which reflects the diversity within the Black community. Since being recognized as a federal holiday, many organizations want to commemorate the day. Organizations want to know how to honor and celebrate while being sensitive to the reason for the holiday. We have some suggestions on how to make a meaningful impact on this holiday:
Additional Paid Time Off Add Juneteenth to your organization’s paid holidays and encourage your team to use the time to recharge and learn something they didn’t know about Black History.
Education- Start with a companywide announcement or presentation recognizing the importance of the holiday. Spend time as an organization learning about slavery and the ongoing struggle for equality and racial justice. Invite guest speakers to educate and inspire your staff.
Recognition- Highlight some Black people who have shown resilience, strength, and creativity in the face of oppression in your firmwide communications. Use the opportunity to connect your messages to the community or industry you serve. For example, you could highlight accomplishments from Black people that impacted the field in which you operate.
Volunteer- Volunteer as a group or offer volunteer paid time to support a non-profit that helps further the mission of equality and racial justice.
Make a Charitable Donation- Find a local non-profit that supports Black communities and make a monetary contribution.
Celebrate- Host an event to highlight Black culture and history; this could be a potluck, or you can provide food or services from Black-owned businesses and offer a space for your employees to be together.
Any way your organization acknowledges and celebrates Juneteenth should be done with thoughtfulness and intention. It is important to solicit feedback by conducting an employee survey or providing an open space to share thoughts and ideas to understand how your team wants to recognize Juneteenth. By keeping employees involved, you can be sure that you are being inclusive and respectful.
Juneteenth is a significant day in American history and creates an opportunity to welcome culture and education into the fabric of your organization’s culture. Contact Kiwi Partners’ HR Services if you need assistance planning and coordinating activities around Juneteenth.