Marketing for Small Businesses

Celebrating Juneteenth – A guide for small businesses

Juneteenth is just around the corner. Do you know what it is? And how your small business can help elevate and celebrate this important date? In this post, we will explore the history of Juneteenth and ways small businesses can make an impact.

Juneteenth and small businesses

vector format. Juneteenth symbol background. Concept design

What is Juneteenth?

According to Wikipedia: “Juneteenth (a portmanteau of June and nineteenth) – also known as Freedom DayJubilee DayLiberation Day, and Emancipation Day– is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. It is commemorated on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in Texas and the other states in rebellion against the Union almost two and a half years earlier. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied on the advance of Union troops. Texas being the most remote of the slave states had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended; thus enforcement there had been slow and inconsistent before Granger’s announcement. Although Juneteenth generally celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in two Union border states (Delaware and Kentucky) until later that year when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished chattel slavery nationwide in December.

Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was eclipsed by the struggle for postwar civil rights but grew in popularity again in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century, Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities across the United States. Activists are campaigning for the United States Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota are the only states that do not recognize Juneteenth, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The modern observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests. The Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, who escaped from U.S. slavery in 1852 and settled in Coahuila, Mexico, also celebrate Juneteenth.”

Social Activism & Juneteenth

Over the past few years, more and more social activism is taking place on social media. This year’s Juneteenth comes at an incredibly significant moment in American history. Following the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black Americans, the United States has witnessed one of the largest social justice movements since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The multigenerational, multiethnic, multigender, and multiracial support that the widespread Black Lives Matter demonstrations have drawn is unlike anything seen before.

How Should Small Businesses Celebrate Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a celebration of the journey and freedom of Black people in the US, and a great opportunity to acknowledge the many contributions that Black people have made to American culture. While there is not a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth, there are several ways small businesses can celebrate, educate and increase awareness of this very important date in US history.

1. Provide your team with Juneteeth day off/day on.

Companies like Twitter, Nike, Lyft, and more are now offering this day as a holiday for their staff to celebrate however they wish. Or offer a donation matching program for charities that are lifting up Black diversity and issues. Several companies are partnering with nonprofits and organizing service events for their team members. encouraging their team to use the day to volunteer for social justice causes, participate in peaceful activism, educate themselves on race and race relations in the United States, and financially contribute to organizations if they are able to. Encouraging their team to use the day to volunteer for social justice causes, participate in peaceful activism, educate themselves on race and race relations in the United States, and financially contribute to organizations if they are able to. At BC & Associates, we raised money for the Equal Justice Initiative.

2. Educate your customers, clients, and fans about Juneteenth and what it means with a social post to help bring more awareness.

The first step to celebrating any holiday is understanding its history and why it’s important. You can create an in-depth YouTube video, an IGTV series, fun, and educational Instagram Reels, or even a carousel post driving traffic to a blog full of more information detailing what Juneteenth is. Very much like we did in this blog post.

3. Spotlight Black employees, businesses, creators, and nonprofits for their contributions to your business and in your community!

Promote their products and services to your customers. Amplifying and supporting Black voices is celebrating their achievements despite so many hurdles they have faced in our country.

4. Use the colors of the Pan-African flag (red, green, and black) and diverse imagery in your Juneteenth social media posts.

From NPR “The Pan-African flag, (also called the Marcus Garvey, UNIA, Afro-American or Black Liberation flag,) was designed to represent people of the African Diaspora, and, as one scholar put it, to symbolize “black freedom, simple.” Learn more about the history of these colors here. Several websites specialize in telling culturally diverse and authentic stories and can help you find high-quality photos for your Juneteenth celebrations. Smithsonian Museum Open Access and Black-owned stock photography sites like Nappy, TONL, and CreateHER Stock are also great resources.

Visit Juneteenth.com or the Juneteenth Foundation for more ideas to celebrate.

Do Not Use Juneteenth As An Opportunity To Sell

Juneteenth is an opportunity to connect with your audience and raise awareness, but it shouldn’t be an event viewed in isolation. Consider how your business, human resources, and marketing content strategy supports diversity and inclusion every day. From the employees, you hire to the content you share and the community and creators you partner with.

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