Updated: Jun 21, 2021
June 19th, 1865.
Although the the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, it wasn't until 1865 that the slaves in Galveston Bay, Texas were notified of their freedom. On June 19th, 1865, 2,000 Union troops went to Galveston Bay and announced over 250,000 enslaved black people were declared free by the government.
Juneteenth (A combination of 'June' and 'nineteen') is celebrated by many black people in the United States as a day of Freedom. It's a day of coming together as a community, supporting each other, recognizing how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go. Many black communities will have family cookouts, street fairs, block parties, parades, and get-togethers. It's a day of happiness, laughter, families, and communities.
As someone who strives to be an Ally, there are many ways for you to take part in Juneteenth festivities. While we've come a long way, we still have miles to go before we sleep. Just because the 'slaves were freed' doesn't mean that there's not systemic racism and injustice happening all around us. Allyship can look many ways on Juneteenth:
Educate! If you're just now hearing about Juneteenth, take some time to self-educate. Learn why it is an important day and how black culture has shaped America. You can also plan ways to educate your employees. For example, at Mattingly Solutions, we decided to watch "High on the Hog" on Netflix - a series on how Black Americans influenced American cuisine- and will meet and reflect on the lessons we learned about black culture. This time will be used to talk about Juneteenth, what it means to the black community, and how we can each support the black community moving forward individually and as an organization.
Give employees the opportunity to take the day off! You may not have heard of this holiday, but your black employees have likely celebrated this day their whole life. It's a big day and it means a lot to a lot of people! It's important to encourage non-black employees to use the time off to recognize the holiday in a meaningful way.
Shop at black owned businesses! Do you know where the black owned businesses are near you? Today is a great day to find out! There are also many online black owned businesses that create and sell any goods or services you might need. Buying from black-owned organizations celebrates black culture and creates opportunities for savings, property ownership, credit building, and generational wealth in black communities.
Volunteer! Volunteering at local groups that support the black community is a great way to be involved with Juneteenth. Scour Facebook Events pages for groups and events who need volunteers
Donate! Donating financially or with physical supplies can be extremely helpful. Donated money or resources enable black community groups to build better infrastructure, provide more education, and set the community up for success.
We've come so far since June 19th, 1865, but we're not there yet. Use your ally skills and the tips above to support for the black communities around you. Or if you are celebrating - Happy Juneteenth!