This article detailing the history and importance of Juneteenth was originally published in June of 2020. We’ve refreshed this article with an updated lens on the holiday, with fresh ideas of ways you can honor and celebrate this important milestone.
For many Americans, Independence Day is synonymous with July 4th, a national holiday celebrating the hard-fought freedom of our nation. Independence Day is a remembrance of the struggles our ancestors faced fighting to become a united, free, country with the ability to self-govern.
While Independence Day signifies the freedom of a nation, it does not necessarily symbolize the freedom of all individuals. The freedoms celebrated on July 4th were not extended to include all citizens for a long period of time. In a famous keynote address delivered on Independence Day, Frederick Douglass noted “the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, aren’t extended to us.”
The reality is that when America won its independence, the fight for freedom continued for countless individuals. It wasn’t until many decades later that true freedom for all was achieved.@TalentTechLabs aspires to promote equity and justice where it's been long ignored or unequally applied. See how they are celebrating & honoring #Juneteenth: Click To Tweet
The History of Juneteenth
In the United States, there is a separate holiday, known as Juneteenth, that marks a significant and pivotal moment in American history. This holiday celebrates political freedom and justice for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or heritage. Juneteenth is the oldest known holiday in the US celebrating the abolition of slavery and calls for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all individuals. Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a Federal holiday, with 49 states and the District of Columbia observing this historic date.
While you may be familiar with the name of the holiday, many people lack a clear understanding of the origins of Juneteenth.
In January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, outlawing slavery within the United States. While the Proclamation was issued in 1863, it was not immediately put into effect. It wasn’t until June 19th, 1865, more than two full years later, that the freeing of enslaved people occurred. It was this date that came to be known and referred to as Juneteenth — a blend of June and nineteenth — as it commemorated the day that slavery truly ended in the United States.
How TTL Honors Juneteenth
Juneteenth is a significant and important milestone in American history. As such, organizations around the country have taken it upon themselves to help increase awareness of the meaning behind the holiday, as well as find ways to honor and advance the push toward true equity and equality for all.
At Talent Tech Labs, we believe that it is important to help shed light on the matter by discussing how we celebrate and honor Juneteenth as an organization, as well as providing outlets for individuals to honor the holiday themselves.
In celebration of Juneteenth, Talent Tech Labs will be closing our business on Monday, June 19th. As a progressive organization, we encourage our team to find ways to volunteer, raise their voice, and commemorate the importance of the day and what it stands for.
Talent Tech Labs appreciates and understands the value that comes from having a diverse and inclusive workplace. Each day we aspire to promote equity and justice in places where it has long been ignored or unequally applied. We believe that by working together and raising awareness of the storied past and continued struggles of individuals today, we can collectively turn the tide. That’s a mission that is worth giving our best, every day.@TalentTechLabs understands the importance of honoring and celebrating #Juneteenth, as we continue to fight for equity and justice for people of all walks of life. See how you can celebrate the historic holiday: Click To Tweet
Three Ways You Can Honor Juneteenth
You might be wondering what options and opportunities are available for you to celebrate Juneteenth outside of the workplace. We’ve taken the time to highlight a few different ways you can spend your time on Juneteenth to reflect on and honor the historic and important holiday:
1. Learn the Full History
One of the most important things you can do is take time to read about Juneteenth, so you can truly grasp the importance of such a holiday. Before any change can be made, you need to educate yourself on the struggles and tribulations individuals faced in our past. There are countless resources and materials out there for people of all ages to read so that they can understand the story of slavery, its lasting impacts, and its importance in American history. For a list of books geared toward children, teens, and adults, check out this list curated by Boston University.
2. Support Black-Owned Businesses
One of the most common ways people celebrate and honor Juneteenth is through supporting Black-Owned businesses. Often, major retailers partner with Black-Owned companies to promote products and services from Black working professionals. Supporting Black-Owned companies goes beyond simply contributing to their profits. When individuals shop and support Black-Owned Businesses, they are advancing and contributing to economic and entrepreneurial equity for historically underserved communities. In many cases, this serves as a means for lower-income families and populations to move up in economic prosperity. Below, we’ve created a list of a few different Black-Owned organizations you can support this Juneteenth:
- Blk Market Vintage — Providers of vintage home goods aimed at preserving Black culture.
- Blk & Bold — A Black-Owned coffee and tea company with a commitment to supporting at-risk youth.
- Puzzle Huddle — A company that promotes inclusive imagery on puzzles for people of all races and ethnicities.
- MahoganyBooks — A family-operated bookstore providing a culturally diverse space for people to share and learn.
- Black Girl Sunscreen — A sunscreen brand specifically catered to Black women’s skin.
- Black Girls Breathing — Mental health is highly important, and so is feeling safe and comfortable in your environment. This organization creates a safe space for Black women to focus on their mental health and mindfulness.
- Jungalow – Colorful, limited edition home goods that are inspired by nature.
- Estelle Colored Glass – Uniquely colored, hand-blown glasses. Available at West Elm and Food52.
Clearly, this list is nowhere near exhaustive of the countless Black-Owned businesses around the United States and the globe. Spend some time researching which organizations exist within your own communities, so that you can help contribute to equal opportunities for all.
3. Donate To Supportive Organizations
Another way to honor and celebrate Juneteenth is through donating and supporting organizations that support and uplift Black communities. This is a great way of providing help and making the difference we’re unable to on our own. There are countless great organizations to consider. We’ve created a shortlist of a few different organizations to help start you on your way:
- American Civil Liberties Union — A nonprofit created to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country.
- Audre Lorde Project — A Brooklyn, New York-based organization for LGBT people of color that organizes nonviolent community activism.
- Bail Project — A nonprofit that aims to pay bail for people who are not financially capable of doing so themselves, to reunite families and preserve the notion of presumed innocence.
- Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund — An organization that provides assistance for Black journalists facing financial hardship, so they can access the mental health resource they need.
Once again, this list is not exhaustive. There are countless other organizations that work to support and uplift people of color. Take some time this June to do some research on the various charities and nonprofits that exist, so you can make an informed decision on whom you donate to.
Additional Resources for Juneteenth
There is a website entirely devoted to Juneteenth that offers a more in-depth context of its history, festivities, its decline as well as its resurgence, and the modern perspective of the holiday.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture published an article detailing the significance of Juneteenth and its lasting impact on modern history.