This Sunday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The date marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were finally told of their freedom, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday has been celebrated by Black Americans since the late 1800s, but it didn’t officially become a federal holiday until 2021 — and before then, only one in 10 Americans got the day off from work to celebrate.
Now, more companies and organizations are widely honoring the holiday. One recent addition is Audubon’s Infinite Blue, which noted the reason as being its “commitment to contributing to a better today and tomorrow.” The tech company has also invited its employees to participate in a fundraiser for the nonprofit Coded by Kids: For every dollar contributed, Infinite Blue will match three to one up to $5,000. As of June 14, the company said, employees have contributed more than $1,000 toward the goal.
Corporate acknowledgement of Juneteenth has gotten a boost since the global Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020 (and in some cases, companies’ hands were forced by the prospect of bad PR if they didn’t make some public statement).
A recent example of corporate monetary commitment for the holiday is that of Wells Fargo, which donated $250,000 to The Enterprise Center to spruce up the 52nd Street ahead of Sunday’s Juneteenth parade. The money will be used for new signage, gates, doors, power washing, graffiti removal and sidewalk repairs along the commercial corridor. This grant is a continuation of the bank’s “HOPE, USA” initiative, which pledged more than $1 million in support for the 52nd Street corridor ahead of the 2021 holiday shopping season. The Enterprise Center and Wells Fargo will also be onsite at the parade and festival providing resources to small business owners.
What are some ways any employer can meaningfully acknowledge the day? To start, remember that it can’t be the only day you’re thinking about diversity and inclusion practices, people ops consultant Jai Calloway advised to Technical.ly last year. You can share resources like history-based articles, interviews, discussion panels or educational videos — and remind folks that they have the opportunity to share resources all year. Read more her tips here.
As we approach Juneteenth 2022, below, find a roundup of some digitally friendly, Philly-centric events and resources to mark the occasion:
The event hosted by the Pennsylvania Juneteenth Initiative is one of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations in the country. On June 19, the parade will start at 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue and end at a festival at Malcolm X Park. The festival will feature local businesses, food vendors, art exhibits and more.
The Arch Street museum has a couple options for this weekend. Check out a free block party on Sunday afternoon, then a meet-and-greet and evening conversation with Bobby Seale, the activist and national chairman of the Black Panther Party. Be sure to grab tickets ahead of time.
During this weekend, the museum will highlight the stories of unsung Black revolutionaries, such as James Forten and Deborah Squash. (Haven’t heard of Forten? Here’s what this generation of Philly activists can learn from the abolitionist.) In-person events will include walking tours, gallery talks and crafts.
In the virtual museum, visitors can explore stories of free and enslaved people of African descent during the Revolutionary Era. The adapted Finding Freedom online interactive feature will also be available for visitors to explore. The online interactive is free and available at any time.
Johnson House Historic Site presents a hybrid panel discussion about housing inequities in Black and brown communities. The panel will also discuss ending the loss of generational wealth in these communities. The panel will be facilitated by Beth Gonzales and feature Register of Wills Tracey L. Gordon and Ardella’s House Executive Director Tonie Willis. The event is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at 6133 Germantown Ave. or live on the Philadelphia Juneteenth Fest Facebook page.
The Library Company of Philadelphia is hosting public historian and artist Michelle Browder to present about the Mothers of Gynecology Monument. This exhibit focuses on three women, known as Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. Browder will speak about her “decades long practice of intervening in dominant historical narratives and building alternative institutions,” according to the event page. In-person tickets have sold out, but the event is also virtual and can be reserved online.