What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth marks the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas 1865 to free all enslaved people following the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, symbolizes hope and progress as we strive toward a more equitable society. 

When is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19th in the United States. It's a day that marks the end of slavery and is a time for reflection, celebration, and community. Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a federal holiday in the United States, a testament to its importance as a symbol of freedom and progress. Many businesses including Nike, Twitter, and Lyft honor Juneteenth by recognizing it as a paid holiday. 

Why is commemorating Juneteenth important?

Why is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth represents a significant day of hope and progress for the ongoing fight for civil rights and the cultural contributions of African Americans. By acknowledging and commemorating Juneteenth in the workplace, organizations can make Black employees feel supported and empowered and bring the focus on creating an equitable society for all Americans.

6 Corporate Juneteenth celebrations that focus on Black empowerment

Get inspired by organizations like Microsoft, Nike, and Mastercard who are commemorating the holiday through meaningful outreach initiatives and impactful Juneteenth campaigns.

How to recognize and honor Juneteenth at work

Celebrating Juneteenth at work can be a meaningful way to honor the contributions and culture of African Americans and to show support for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Here are 4 ways to recognize and support Juneteenth at work: 

  1. Invest in active Allyship for Black Communities 
    Allies can use their privilege to amplify black voices and support their colleagues. By listening, learning, and being open to feedback, we can help create a more inclusive workplace. Take time this Juneteenth to recognize the holiday through internal communications and share resources to learn about the holiday. This is the best time to join your organization’s Black ERG and participate in and support its efforts to build inclusive workplaces.
5 tips to how to be an ally on Juneteenth

  1. Host Culturally Sensitive Celebrations
    Host group discussions or invite a speaker to reflect and reeducate the team on history and the importance of racial equity. These events can help create a more inclusive and supportive workplace that values diversity and celebrates the contributions of all employees.

  2. Recognize Juneteenth with colleagues
    Juneteenth is a unifying opportunity to bring all employees together to learn about the Black American experience. Encourage non-Black employees to start small by simply wishing colleagues on Juneteenth. Educate employees on awkward questions that they could encounter, such as  ‘Can I say Happy Juneteenth?’ or  ‘How to wish people on Juneteenth?'  Simple messages like “Happy Juneteenth” or “Wishing you a meaningful Juneteenth” can also help black employees feel supported.
  3. Honor Juneteenth as a day of service: Juneteenth is the perfect opportunity to address the historical effects of racism and underrepresentation by driving meaningful impact. Commit time as an organization to volunteer and mentor Black underprivileged youth or learn and share Black History on Juneteenth. Taking action is the best way to support the progress of the Black community.

Juneteenth volunteer opportunities 2023

How to celebrate Juneteenth at work: 13 ways to engage employees virtually and in-person

Organizations can leverage Juneteenth to amplify employee understanding of the Black American experience through fun and engaging Juneteenth celebration ideas like these:

  1. Share Interesting Facts about Juneteenth ✍️
    Sharing facts about Juneteenth and African-American leaders with your employees is an excellent way to educate them about the holiday's significance. For instance, did you know that Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States? You can share facts about African-American history, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the contributions of African-American leaders. 

    Write these on colorful cards and place them all around the office.

  1. Play Trivia to Do Some Myth Busting 🗂️
    Now that you have interesting facts on colorful cards. You can organize a Juneteenth trivia. Divide your employees into groups and play Trivia Night. It’s a fun, engaging way to learn more about the significance of Juneteenth.

  1. Juneteenth Games 🎯
    Organize games that celebrate Black culture and history, such as Black History Bingo or Juneteenth Jeopardy, to help your employees learn more about Black history while having fun. Alternatively, you can organize team-building games such as tug of war or sack races to create a festive atmosphere. Think about ways to incorporate cultural elements into the games, such as playing African drum music during the games.

  1. Juneteenth Picnic 🧺
    A Juneteenth picnic is a great team-building exercise to unite employees to celebrate the holiday. You can plan a potluck-style lunch or barbecue and encourage employees to bring traditional African-American dishes such as macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and collard greens. You can also incorporate cultural elements into the picnic, such as playing African music or having a cultural dance performance. A picnic is a great way to connect with colleagues and celebrate the legacy of African-American history.

  1. Make Juneteenth a Paid Holiday 🤝
    Consider making Juneteenth a paid holiday for your employees. This observance demonstrates your commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and enables employees to celebrate the day with their families. It is an investment in your employees and can positively impact employee morale and engagement.

  1. Volunteer day
    Organize a volunteer event for your employees to give back to the community. Volunteering can help your employees connect with their community and contribute to advancing racial justice. Goodera executes impactful and engaging volunteering activities that enable employees to learn, connect, and give back. Explore curated Juneteenth volunteer opportunities that are hosted and managed by us.

  1. Change Your Zoom Background 💻
    Encourage employees to change their Zoom backgrounds to commemorate Juneteenth. You can provide them with Juneteenth-themed backgrounds, such as images of the Emancipation Proclamation or Black cultural icons. By changing your Zoom background, you can create a festive atmosphere and show your support for the holiday. It is an easy and fun way to connect with colleagues virtually.

  1. Invite a Speaker 🎤
    Inviting a Juneteenth speaker to your workplace is an excellent way to educate your employees about the holiday's history and significance. They can provide valuable insights into the holiday’s historical significance in today's society. It is an opportunity to learn from experts and engage in meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion.

  1. Decorate Your Workplace 🏢
    Decorating your workplace with Juneteenth-themed decorations is a great way to create a festive atmosphere and celebrate the holiday. Use red, black, and green colors, or use Juneteenth-themed posters and banners. It is an opportunity to create a welcoming environment for all employees.

Virtual Juneteenth Celebration Ideas

If your workplace is remote or some employees work from home, you can still celebrate Juneteenth. Here are some virtual Juneteenth celebration ideas:

  1. Virtual Team Museum Tour 🖼️
    Take your employees on a virtual team tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. This tour can help your employees learn about Black history and culture.

  1. Virtual Juneteenth Party 🥳
    Organize a virtual Juneteenth party for your employees. This event can feature Black music, food, and games. A virtual Juneteenth party can be an excellent opportunity to celebrate Black culture while fostering community among your remote employees.

  1. Virtual Juneteenth Book Club 📚
    Start a virtual book club for your employees to support Black authors, stories, and culture. You can choose a book that focuses on Black history and the struggles of Black people and discuss it to raise awareness among employees. 

Your Juneteenth reading list can include

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 

  1. Host a virtual Juneteenth cooking class 🧑🍳
    You can hire a chef or use online resources to teach your team how to cook traditional African-American dishes. Cooking is a fun and interactive way to learn about Juneteenth and African-American culture.

These were some ways to celebrate Juneteenth at work that will hopefully become a part of your campaign. However, it’s vital that these celebrations also involve giving back to the community to advance overall racial equity and DEI goals. We’ve curated a vetted list of BIPOC and Black nonprofits near you to help employees make a local impact.

BIPOC and Black Nonprofit organizations to partner with for Juneteenth

Looking for Juneteenth nonprofits to partner with for a day of service? These Goodera-vetted Black nonprofit organizations are working to ensure racial justice by advancing equity for Black communities across the United States. Check out our list of top Black nonprofit organizations for Juneteenth, which includes nonprofits like the School of HipHop, Project Diva International, and Africa Yoga Project.

Why ensuring purposeful Juneteenth celebrations is mission-critical for organizations

While Juneteenth only became a federal holiday and a workplace celebration in 2021, it is one of the oldest known traditions honoring the end of slavery in America. Hence, organizations must respect existing spaces and use the opportunity to educate employees on the history of racial discrimination and explore ways to promote racial equity within the workplace. Employees can, for example, engage in a fun volunteering session to learn about the Abolitionist movement through trivia cards and share the content with local nonprofit organizations. Such simple yet meaningful actions can help achieve equity and progress for the community.  

Juneteenth volunteer opportunities 2023