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How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work

how to celebrate juneteenth at work

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Celebrating Freedom and Inclusivity

As you learn about this historic day, it’s essential to understand its significance and how to celebrate Juneteenth at work. As a holiday commemorating the end of slavery, it marks the day enslaved people in Texas learned they were free. Recognizing Juneteenth at work is an important step towards promoting a diverse and inclusive environment, as well as acknowledging the historical significance of the day. According to a U.S. workforce survey, awareness of Juneteenth increased from 41% prior to 2020 to 71% as of May 2021, making it a relevant conversation to have in your workplace.

Celebrating Juneteenth at work can involve a variety of activities and events that encourage employees to engage and learn about the day’s historical importance. Decorating the workplace, hosting trivia games, and offering educational materials can help create a festive, reflective, and inclusive atmosphere. Some organizations may even choose to observe the day as a company holiday, demonstrating their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

While planning your Juneteenth celebrations, remember that there is no right or wrong way to mark the occasion. It’s crucial to keep the mood festive, reflective, and forward-looking, as well as inclusive. This will ensure that your workplace fosters a positive environment, which can have a lasting impact on employee satisfaction and company culture.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Historical Context of Juneteenth

1865 and Emancipation Proclamation

Understanding the historical context of Juneteenth starts with the year 1865. In the midst of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This executive order declared that all slaves in the Confederate states were to be set free. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that this news reached the last group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas.

Texas and Galveston

During the Civil War, Texas was viewed as a remote territory, which caused a delay in the dissemination of important news. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and read aloud General Order No. 3, informing the people of Texas that all formerly enslaved individuals were now free under the Emancipation Proclamation. This announcement was a significant turning point as it marked the end of slavery in the state.

End of Slavery in the United States

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, or Freedom Day, is now celebrated annually on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. As you may already know, this day represents a milestone in American history and a reminder of the continuous fight for racial justice and equality.

In recent years, Juneteenth has been gaining recognition across the nation, with organizations and workplaces striving to incorporate its significance into their culture as a way to foster a more inclusive environment. By understanding the history behind Juneteenth, you can better appreciate its impact on the ongoing push for racial equity within your workplace and society at large.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Juneteenth in the Workplace

Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In today’s world, embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is crucial. By recognizing Juneteenth and its significance, you not only acknowledge the importance of these values but also create a more welcoming environment for everyone. This helps to foster a company culture where all employees feel valued and included, regardless of their background or experiences.

Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work

To honor Juneteenth, consider implementing some of these ideas in your workplace:

  • Hold educational sessions: Teach employees about the history and significance of Juneteenth through workshops or webinars.
  • Promote black-owned businesses: Support black-owned businesses in your local community by organizing lunch groups or other initiatives.
  • Organize guest speakers or panel discussions: Invite members of the black community to share their experiences and discuss the importance of racial justice.
  • Volunteer or give back: Encourage employees to spend time volunteering for organizations that focus on racial equity and inclusion.
  • Celebrate through music and art: Host a virtual or in-person event featuring black musicians, artists, or performers.

Addressing Racial Injustice and Empathy

As an employer, addressing racial injustice in the workplace begins with fostering empathy and understanding among employees. Encourage open conversations about race and privilege, and promote inclusiveness by providing resources and training to support these discussions.

By creating a safe space for dialogue and acknowledging the diverse perspectives and experiences of your employees, you can help empower them to contribute meaningfully to a more empathetic and equitable workplace for all.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Celebrating Black Culture and Contributions

As you celebrate Juneteenth in the workplace, it’s essential to acknowledge the historical and cultural significance of the holiday. The recognition of Juneteenth is a way to demonstrate support for Black Americans and their contributions to society.

Juneteenth Traditions and Food

Juneteenth is known for its rich traditions, which include setting time aside for reflection, learning about Black history, and sharing traditional foods with coworkers. Red foods, in particular, hold symbolic importance as they represent the blood and resilience of enslaved African Americans. You may consider organizing a potluck, featuring dishes like red beans and rice, strawberry pie, and red velvet cake to honor Black culture and history.

Black-Owned Businesses

Supporting Black-owned businesses is another fantastic way to celebrate Juneteenth in the workplace. You can collaborate with local Black-owned businesses, offering to showcase their products or services in your office, or organizing an event that highlights their work. Encouraging your coworkers to patronize these businesses not only shows appreciation for the community but also helps promote economic equity.

Prominent Black Leaders and Achievements

Acknowledging the contributions of notable Black leaders can provide inspiration and help employees understand the importance of celebrating Juneteenth. You can create a presentation or host a discussion covering prominent Black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Barack Obama, as well as their remarkable achievements. Additionally, you can highlight contemporary leaders within the Black Lives Matter movement and discuss how their activism continues to impact society.

By fostering a workplace environment that recognizes and honors Black culture, you can contribute to promoting diversity and inclusion while celebrating Juneteenth meaningfully and respectfully.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Promoting Education, Awareness, and Allyship

Addressing Systemic Racism

Understanding the significance of Juneteenth in the workplace starts with addressing systemic racism. As an organization, it’s essential to establish diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies that create safe spaces for conversation and collaboration. The first step towards fostering awareness and promoting allyship is by educating yourself and your employees about the historical context of Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day.

Encourage discussions around the day’s history and its connection to ongoing systemic racism. Hold workshops and training sessions that focus on recognizing and dismantling biases in the workplace.

Empowering Black Voices in the Workplace

In an effort to empower black voices within your organization, it’s crucial to actively engage in promoting diversity and inclusivity. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

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  • Create a diverse and inclusive leadership team: Ensure that your leadership team represents various backgrounds and experiences. This will help provide different perspectives and create an environment where everyone feels valued.
  • Provide opportunities for growth and development: Invest in education and training programs for your employees, especially those from underrepresented groups. This can be achieved through mentorship programs, professional development workshops, and promoting internal mobility.
  • Celebrate Juneteenth: Make Juneteenth an official company holiday and foster conversations about its importance to black Americans and American history. Encourage employees to participate in local events and use Juneteenth as an opportunity to practice active allyship within the workplace.

By promoting education, awareness, and allyship among your employees, you can create a more inclusive, equitable, and empathetic workplace. Embracing these values, you will not only enrich the workplace culture but also contribute to dismantling systemic racism and fostering growth for everyone.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Work: Policies and Perspectives on Juneteenth

Juneteenth as a Federal & State Holiday

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in June 2021 when President Joe Biden signed a bill to officially recognize it. This important day marks the emancipation of the last enslaved Black Americans, and it’s celebrated on June 19th each year. As a federal holiday, most federal employees will receive a paid day off to observe Juneteenth. In addition to being recognized at the federal level, many states also acknowledge Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Workplace Policies on Paid Time Off

When it comes to the private sector, employers have the discretion to decide whether or not to offer Juneteenth as a paid day off for their employees. Some companies, such as Allstate, Citigroup, and JCPenney, have chosen to do so in a move to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As you consider implementing a paid time off policy for Juneteenth in your organization, think about the benefits it could bring. Not only does it provide an opportunity to educate your workforce about this significant historical event, but it also shows your support for social and racial justice. Recognizing Juneteenth in the workplace can help strengthen your company’s culture, promote an inclusive environment, and align with your organization’s mission, vision, and values.

While offering paid time off for Juneteenth is significant, ensure that your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace goes beyond a single day. Pursue ongoing educational opportunities, engage in dialogue, and continue to foster an environment where all employees feel valued, included, and supported.


As you reflect on the significance of Juneteenth and its impact on the workplace, it’s essential to consider how your organization can actively recognize and honor this important day. By acknowledging Juneteenth and fostering an inclusive work environment, you demonstrate your commitment to racial equality and embrace diversity in its truest form.

You should feel encouraged to engage in open and honest conversations about Juneteenth with your colleagues. This provides an opportunity for mutual understanding and shared growth. Remember, only 41% of American workers were aware of Juneteenth prior to 2020, so taking the initiative to educate yourself and your coworkers is a vital step in fostering a more inclusive workplace.

In your efforts to honor Juneteenth, consider implementing activities and events that encourage discussion and reflection. This can range from hosting guest speakers, organizing book clubs or movie screenings focused on Black history, or dedicating time for employees to volunteer for social justice initiatives. Besides these events, embed diversity and inclusion into your company culture by offering resources, training, and support for employees of all backgrounds.

Lastly, remember that recognizing and celebrating Juneteenth is just one piece of the puzzle in addressing racial inequality in the workplace. Your ongoing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion will not only benefit your employees but also contribute to a thriving, well-rounded organization. Keep up the good work, and continue to make strides towards a more just and inclusive work environment.

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