June 19, also known as Juneteenth or Jubilee Day, commemorates the ending of slavery in America. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared that all slaves were free on January 1, 1863, the end of slavery came more than two years later, in June of 1965, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure the last remaining enslaved people in the country were free. In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday, and in recent years, especially since the 2020 wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, many companies have begun to recognize and celebrate the day. Many healthcare companies, in particular, have used the celebration of Juneteenth to explore and discuss the issues within health equity that persist today. For example, GraceMed published an article in 2021 on Juneteenth and the history of healthcare inequity in America. There are many ways in which your healthcare company can celebrate and honor this holiday, including giving employees paid time off, bringing in guest speakers, hosting a DEI initiative workshop, supporting Black-owned businesses, and vocalizing your support.
Paid time off
One way your company can celebrate Juneteenth is by recognizing it as a holiday and giving your employees paid time off. Whether it is the whole day, half a day, or early dismissal, giving some time off will allow your employees to celebrate the day in a manner that is meaningful and personal to themselves. This could also allow for participation in different community events that celebrate and honor the holiday. We at KNB, and many other healthcare companies, are giving employees a day off to honor and celebrate the day.
Another way your company can celebrate Juneteenth is by bringing in different guest speakers to talk to employees. This is an excellent way to educate employees about the historical significance of the day while also uplifting the voices of Black community members. This is a versatile way to celebrate as it can be done either in-person or virtually. Guest speakers can be from any industry and talk about the significance of Juneteenth and their own work and life experiences.
DEI initiative workshop
Juneteenth is not only about remembering the history of the day but also working toward advancing the Black community today. One way to do this is to spend the day workshopping different diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to implement throughout the year. These could be ways to increase DEI efforts in hiring policies, how your company can address health equity issues within today’s landscape, or any other DEI initiatives your employees feel passionate about. No matter what initiatives you workshop, this is a good way to acknowledge the past while progressing the future.
Supporting Black-owned businesses
One way to make a difference in the Black community on Juneteenth is to support Black-owned businesses. There is a multitude of ways to do this. You could hold an event celebrating the holiday and only buy products, such as food or decorations, from Black-owned businesses. Or as a company, you could donate to a Black-owned or supported charity. This way you could use the holiday to enhance the community as well.
The easiest way to acknowledge and celebrate the day is by vocalizing your support across content channels. This could include social media posts, blog posts, articles, newsletters, or any other content you might produce. This is an easy way to recognize the day and support its significance. Here at KNB, we make it a priority to vocalize our support for the day across our channels.
There are many meaningful and impactful ways in which you can honor Juneteenth. No matter what way your company chooses to celebrate the day, make sure to do it in a way that is meaningful to your employees and the larger community.