Promoting diversity and awareness: 7 ways to honor Juneteenth at your workplace

By Emily Arndt on June 13, 2023

Below are 7 easy and fun ways to engage with your staff and learn about a pivotal day in American history.

Short for June 19th, “Juneteenth” is an important holiday to recognize. On June 19th, 1865, two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all enslaved people in the states were “forever free,” about 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were truly freed.

Juneteenth is the longest-running African American holiday. It became a federal holiday in June of 2021. Typical celebrations include attending religious and prayer services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and festivals.

Though Juneteenth has been celebrated by the African American community for over 150 years, most Americans aren’t familiar with the holiday. In fact, according to Gallup via The New York Times, more than 60% know “nothing at all” or only “a little bit” about Juneteenth.

On their website, Gallup took an optimistic approach and wrote that 37% of Americans know “a lot” or “some” about Juneteenth. Gallup also reported that two in three Black Americans had “a lot” or “some” knowledge of Juneteenth, followed by 40% of Hispanic Americans and 31% of White Americans. Whether you’re a glass-half-full kind of person or not, the data shows that the majority of Americans need more education on this holiday.

If you’re looking for more ways to commemorate Juneteenth at your workplace, while building relationships among staff, here are 7 great ideas from around the web (in no particular order):

  1. Motivate your staff to eat at Black-owned businesses - 8 out of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months. One way your associates can honor Juneteenth is to eat at Black or minority-owned restaurants. To find Black-owned places to eat in your area, go to Yelp.com, type in “Black owned restaurant” and enter your city and state.
  2. Hold a lunch and learn about the history and importance of Juneteenth - Education is key on this topic. Make an event out of it. Buy sweets from a Black-owned business and go over a Q&A. Watch this explainer video from Vox. Don’t assume your associates know what the holiday means.
  3. Encourage your staff to wear Juneteenth colors - red, green and black - These colors have important significance: red signifies the blood of enslaved people and Africans that was shed, black stands for the richness of the Black culture and green represents new life and new hope for the future.
  4. Consider donating to a charity that supports equality and racial justice, like the National Black Child Development Institute or the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
  5. Plan a trip to tour a Black culture museum or exhibit - If you live on the east coast, consider visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. There’s also the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana and The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL, to name a few.
  6. Start a book club with reads focused on Black history. Teach for America offers a Juneteenth book list for people of all ages.
  7. Host a Juneteenth movie day and take a peek at films like these that focus on Black history: Miss Juneteenth, 12 Years a Slave, Black-ish, Atlanta, Homecoming, Sherman’s Showcase, Watchmen, Harriet, 13th or Malcolm X.

For even more ideas, visit https://unexpectedvirtualtours.com/juneteenth-ideas-for-work/.

Over 86% of job seekers say workplace diversity is important to them when looking for a job. Research shows that having a diverse workplace can increase productivity by 35%. Whether your staff are from diverse backgrounds or your company’s diversity is still growing, take advantage of highlighting this important holiday.



Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.

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