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How to Educate Yourself and Your Organization About Juneteenth

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June 19th is the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas in 1865, which became a symbol of the end of slavery in America. This year, a 5,000-square-foot mural was unveiled at the Galveston location where Union General Gordon Granger read the orders that freed more than 250,000 people.

As Juneteenth gains more prominence within the business world as a day that must be recognized, so too do questions about how it should be recognized. Many, including the Ad Council, now recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday; some wrestle with how to celebrate the holiday internally. (For example, an educational panel for employees might seem well-intentioned, but Black employees may not want to be forced to confront content about slavery at work, especially on a day that is meant to be celebratory, and after such an emotionally taxing year.)

“Honoring Juneteenth as a company-wide holiday is an important step as we acknowledge the past, celebrate how far we’ve come, and reflect on what is possible when we commit, take action and hold ourselves and each other accountable to advance DEI,” says Ad Council’s Chief Equity Officer Elise James-DeCruise. “We are all on this journey together.”

Here are seven ways to help you educate yourself and your organization about Juneteenth.

Honoring Juneteenth at Work
For managers and executives in human resources, the Society for Human Resource Management has compiled a thorough list of resources about recognizing Juneteenth in the workplace, news articles and resources, as well as sample agendas and news coverage of expanding recognition of June 19th as a holiday.

Why Celebrating Juneteenth Is More Important Now Than Ever
P.R. Lockhart, Vox
Schools often teach that Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the U.S. But the day that General Granger arrived in Galveston—June 19, 1865, the day that became Juneteenth—was two and a half years after Lincoln’s Proclamation. And even then, slavery was still legal in Delaware and Kentucky. P.R. Lockhart’s interview with Karlos Hill, professor of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, dives into the history of Juneteenth, the legacy of slavery and why celebrating Juneteenth is so important for our country.

103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
Corinne Shutack, Medium
For white people who need to continue to educate themselves on America’s racist history and find concrete actions they can take to be actively anti-racist and move our country toward racial justice, this list from 2017 remains a great resource on many fronts.

Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?
Ibram X. Kendi
Last year in The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How to Be an Anti-Racist and the director and founder of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, wrote a powerful piece in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery that explores the colonization of fear in America. “I just don’t think Americans fully realize how terrorizing it is to black males when we are falsely suspected as violent criminals,” he writes. “All Americans seem to be thinking about is their fear of us—not our fear of their fear.”

The Case for Reparations
Ta-Nehisi Coates
For those who wish to educate themselves about the long history of institutionalized racism and inequity that unspooled from the time of slavery to the present day—and learn more about the argument for reparations as the path toward equity—Ta-Nehisi Coates’s famously in-depth cover story for The Atlantic from 2014 is a must-read. (It’s also included in his book of essays, We Were Eight Years in Power.)

A History of Racial Injustice
Equal Justice Initiative
On June 19th and all 365 days of the year, the Equal Justice Initiative’s daily web calendar provides a thoughtful look back on a moment in American history that took place on that day. You can also subscribe to get daily emails.

Fight for Freedom
Love Has No Labels
Since 2015, our Love Has No Labels campaign has promoted acceptance and inclusion of all people across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability. In 2020, LHNL launched the “Fight for Freedom” PSA to specifically address anti-Black racism—the website features resources to help you learn more, take action and donate.