Every year, June 19th marks the observance of Juneteenth. This important date commemorates the day The United States informed the last enslaved people that slavery was abolished. While the African-American community has celebrated Juneteenth for over a century, Congress made it a federal holiday in 2021.
Honoring Juneteenth in your organization will foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. By recognizing this important day, you can provide a helping of fun, while also paying respect to the significance of Juneteenth. A harmonious team is happy and productive, and what better way to add harmony than to celebrate the diversity we have within our unique workplaces.
This year, we’ve compiled 10 ways to mark Juneteenth at your workplace and help make this June 19th memorable for your whole team.
1. Celebrate Juneteenth with an allyship seminar
Dive into a meaningful discussion of ways to incorporate allyship into your company’s culture with the Juneteenth & Allyship Virtual Seminar.
This virtual seminar looks deeply into the meaning of Juneteenth and offers a perspective on unconscious biases and microaggressions. Your team will come away with actionable steps to build solidarity between people of different races and backgrounds.
2. Have a Juneteenth barbecue
A barbecue cookout is a Juneteenth staple, with red foods – like punch, red velvet cake and sauces – in honor of the blood shed by enslaved people.
Consider your staff’s dietary restrictions and preferences before celebrating with a Juneteenth barbecue. Many caterers provide vegan-friendly options and are happy to accommodate allergies upon request.
Host an outdoor party at a suitable location, like a park or – if you have one – the office courtyard or rooftop. Do it potluck-style or have a catering provider supply the food.
Some traditional Juneteenth foods include:
- Pulled pork
- Baked beans
- Potato salad
- Macaroni salad
- Strawberry soda or fruit punch
- Red velvet cake
- Sweet pies
For other exciting menu options, browse catering providers on the Thriver marketplace to deliver your Juneteenth barbecue celebration.
3. Host a Juneteenth movie night
When celebrating Juneteenth in the workplace, consider that not all activities have to be active. Get your team together in front of your office’s projector screen or big-screen TV for a movie, and select a film that centers on the Black experience.
A good movie will provide insights into the centuries-long struggles that the Black community has faced and the many impactful contributions of Black people throughout history. It will encourage empathy and understanding for those who haven’t had the same experiences.
These are some excellent movie titles we recommend:
- The Color Purple
- Malcolm X
- Hidden Figures
- The Help
- The Hate You Give
- 12 Years a Slave
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- A Raisin in the Sun
View the film ahead of time, and prepare some discussion topics and questions to prompt conversation with your team after the movie.
4. Support black-owned businesses
Any time of year is an excellent time to give your patronage to Black-owned businesses. On this commemorative day, make a special effort to invite Black-owned caterers and service providers to supply your workplace Juneteenth celebration.
Whether you’re putting together a special trivia night or throwing a barbecue party, Thriver can connect you with Black-owned providers to help you celebrate Juneteenth at your workplace.
5. Invite a guest speaker for Juneteenth
Honor a local or regional African American person of note, and invite them to speak to your company about their experiences, how things have changed – for better or worse – and what is still left to do. Consider authors, poets, artists and politicians who lived through the Civil Rights Movement or those who are on the front lines of the current push for racial equality in America.
Go outside your regional boundaries and invite a speaker to do a virtual presentation followed by a discussion. End with a Juneteenth meal – barbecue, potato salad, pie and red punch. If your guest presents on-site, invite them to share in the food and festivities.
6. Juneteenth donation drive
Holidays are ideal for exercising selflessness and giving time, money and resources to a worthy cause. This month provides the perfect opportunity for recognizing Juneteenth at work with a drive to collect money or items for organizations that focus on advancing the Black community and providing services to African Americans.
Alternatively, hold a Juneteenth fundraising activity for your workplace, like a bake sale or a competitive event with an entry fee – with all proceeds going to a worthy association.
Search for suitable organizations in your area, or consider one of these worthwhile national organizations dedicated to the Black community:
- UNCF (United Negro College Fund)
- NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
- NBCDI (National Black Child Development Institute)
- ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
7. Have a Juneteenth sporting competition
One great Juneteenth idea for companies is to hold a sporting event that encourages friendly competition among your team. Kickball is a popular sport among office staff – it doesn’t require intense athleticism, and it’s one of the safer sports. If your crew is more raucous, flag football and softball are also fun and relatively safe options.
Find a venue, such as a park or a softball field, and contact your parks and recreation department ahead of time to reserve time to play. Divide your employees up into teams, and play ball!
Who says it has to end there? Join a league, and play competitively against other organizations. Then, each year, make Juneteenth a special game day with a barbecue and Juneteenth decorations.
8. Paid day off to celebrate Juneteenth
Giving your crew a paid holiday is a great idea for the workplace on Juneteenth. A day off with pay allows your employees to celebrate the holiday in the way they choose. It also lets your staff know that the company honors the holiday and its significance.
Since Juneteenth falls on a Sunday this year, consider offering the preceding Friday or following Monday as a company-acknowledged holiday. The extra day gives your team members more time to visit out-of-town friends or family to celebrate.
9. Host a Juneteenth community event
Juneteenth activities aren’t just for the workplace. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand your company’s presence and support equal rights throughout the community. Organize a barbecue block party, an on-premises picnic, a fun run or any number of community activities. Invite the public and include a guest speaker. Your event can be as simple or as extravagant as you like.
Couple this with a paid day off for your employees, and invite any who wish to participate.
10. Sponsor a Juneteenth community event
If hosting a community event isn’t feasible, consider sponsoring one. In most cities, there’s no shortage of Juneteenth celebrations. By backing one or more events hosted by a Black-owned company or non-profit, your organization builds bridges to the broader community.
Get involved locally throughout the year to foster solidarity and cultivate broader acceptance – one event at a time.
Make a meaningful impact this Juneteenth
Juneteenth is a day to acknowledge the unimaginable suffering of enslaved Black Americans and the myriad challenges they’ve faced – and continue to face – as the struggle for equality and the fight against racism continues. But it’s also a day to celebrate the end of slavery and the shift toward Civil Rights – and work toward building a corporate culture that recognizes the contributions, individuality and value of all people.
As you consider how to celebrate Juneteenth at work this year, look to the Thriver marketplace for providers offering team activities and educational workshops that promote diversity, equity and inclusiveness. Whether you want to keep your Juneteenth observance simple with a single activity or make it a robust, multi-faceted day of learning and growing, you’ll find all you need on Thriver.
Image credit: Juneteenth vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com