Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Here are some ways you can celebrate Juneteenth this weekend:
In The Workplace:
Recognizing Juneteenth in the workplace supports corporate diversity ideals and sends a signal that the company is truly dedicated to its diverse employee base.
- Decorate a conference room, lobby or workspace with a Juneteenth theme to acknowledge the day’s celebration. Bring the group together for refreshments and an explanation of Juneteenth.
- An extended celebration could include artifacts, dance, skits, etc. The event should be celebratory, festive and in honor of African American history. Present co-workers with Juneteenth buttons, t-shirts, etc and encourage them to wear them the remainder of the day.
- Challenge co-workers to present African American facts, de-bunk myths and stereotypes…
- Discuss company diversity initiatives and ensure employees that race and gender will never be barriers to their progress within the company.
- Bring in a guest speaker.
In The Community:
Celebrations in the community are exciting and fun-filled events.
- Generally, a committee of local business and community leaders is formed to plan a host of events. In many cities, tens of thousands turn out to participate. Parades, rodeos, races, Miss Juneteenth contests, barbecues are typical for an outdoor celebration. School essay and poster contests are excellent ways to get the youth involved. Local businesses and city government come onboard as sponsors to keep costs low (or free) for attendees to the events.
- Blog about it!! Review the Celebrations to see how others celebrated Juneteenth.
- Host a community Juneteenth Flag Raising. Invite school bands, elected officials, business and civic leaders to participate.
- Encourage your libraries, post offices, city hall to host Juneteenth displays.
In The Neighborhood:
- Encourage your neighborhood to decorate and display Juneteenth yard signs and banners.
- Rally local organizations to unite and collaborate on a special event in honor of Juneteenth. (Public discussion, outdoor concert, etc.)
- Organize neighborhood block parties and invite elected officials and guest speakers to attend.
- Identify individuals to receive community service awards.
- Plan a special meal and gather the family together to