In 2022, there’s still so much to learn about Juneteenth’s history and relevance. A big part of entrepreneurship is understanding diverse cultures to understand the importance of representation for you, your clients, and the audiences they want to reach. Let’s take a closer look at what the Juneteenth holiday is and ways to celebrate it.
On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Biden signed into law S. 475, known as the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” which designates Juneteenth as a legal, public holiday in America. It was an official recognition of a tradition many in the Black community celebrated for years, even generations, in lieu of, or in addition to, the Fourth of July.
Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people at the end of the U.S. Civil War. It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated in 1983. Some refer to it as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or the “Second Independence Day.” It is celebrated on June 19th every year.
Quick history lesson: even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, which would go into effect the 1st of 1863, the enslaved of Galveston, TX, were not notified they were free until June 19th by General Gordon Granger due to the lack of modern technology. News didn’t travel as fast as back then. So, those recently set free by the federal government celebrated, and the holiday was celebrated again the following year, making it the Texas African American community tradition to remember the day the Union brought news of their freedom.
The annual celebration spread throughout other Black communities but became less popular in the early 1900s until it found a renewed fire in Black communities in the 1950s and ’60s. In 1980, it became an official state holiday in Texas, and the national level caught up in 2021 by President Biden.
Honoring and celebrating the Black community’s survival and thriving over the years is a big deal! Whether you want to use the day to give back through community service, go to local Black-owned businesses to keep the money circulating in the community, or you can try doing something unique, it’s all valid and can fill your heart and soul with positive energy.
One way to honor Juneteenth is through service. No matter where you live, there are always ways to give back. Research Juneteenth community service projects to see which you’d like to contribute to.
If you can’t spend some time physically helping that weekend, consider donating to local nonprofits that directly benefit the Black community. For instance, there are several groups dedicated to helping local food deserts, which disproportionately affect Black communities as shown here. You would be amazed to realize there are several areas in America where community members do not receive enough nutritious food regularly.
Find your passion and use your resources, including physical or financial, to support the Black community, especially at this time of year when we reflect on the challenges and triumphs faced by minorities in the past and present.
The second way to spend your Juneteenth is through supporting local Black-owned businesses and services. There are many resources to identify local Black-owned businesses like this article. Simply type in black-owned businesses into Google and decide where you want to go out to eat with friends or try a new product.
The only way any business can thrive is through profit, so Juneteenth of all days is a thoughtful way to celebrate Black culture and keep the money flowing into the community.
The third way to spend your Juneteenth would be based on your independent reflection of your life and experiences. For some, it may be revisiting a place you loved as a child with your family to get in touch with your roots. Others may visit a museum to learn about Black history. No matter your ethnicity, everyone can enjoy festivities and learn about Juneteenth’s history. You may even find yourself at a Juneteenth festival where you can combine learning, fun, and circulating the dollar with Black vendors.
From a business standpoint, holidays are an opportunity for themed promotion. The key is authenticity. If you’re already doing advocacy work or hold values that align with the Juneteenth history and vision, then emphasize it. Be true and be you.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Juneteenth this year, remember where Black people have been and where they are today. Social injustice and discrimination are very much alive and well in America and worldwide, and the strength it takes to combat that is needed throughout the world. Alongside the challenges, there is a lot of love, laughter, and camaraderie to revel in, too.
Juneteenth is about the community. Reflecting and living for the culture authentically and respectfully. Part of business is understanding people, whether you identify with their ethnic group or not, and this holiday is important to acknowledge and honor the Black community.