Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated every year on June 19th, combining “June” and “nineteenth” to create Juneteenth. It is a holiday that has become celebrated over the years, but the meaning behind it is often misunderstood or not known. The origin of Juneteenth dates back to June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Grander arrived in Galveston, TX, announcing that enslaved Blacks in the state were finally a free people.
RELATED READING :: The End of Slavery in Texas Matters More than Ever – Juneteenth
Why is that important you may ask? It is important because this announcement came two months after the end of the Civil War and almost 3 years after then, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The need to celebrate is important, but equally and even more important is the need to respect and pay reverence to the reason why we celebrate.
We celebrate “freedom” and the new era, then enslaved Blacks entered into after being freed.
Over the years, Juneteenth, has become more popular resulting in festivities celebrated by those across various backgrounds, religions, races, gender or ethnicity; no longer celebrated by just the Black community.
So celebrated, that it was recognized by President Biden, declaring it a federal holiday in 2021.
Despite the progress made to recognize this most prestigious day, companies have taken to branding Juneteenth to make a profit. From Juneteenth inspired ice cream to themed paper goods and party supplies and going so far to sell Juneteenth watermelon salad, many of these companies efforts to celebrate the holiday fell flat and appear tone-deaf; their real goal is to capitalize on the holiday for profit.
I am not saying the holiday should not be celebrated much like 4th of July or Memorial Day, however, it is imperative that companies get it right, not losing sight of the historical significance of Juneteenth. It is important we not misappropriate such an important day in our history to make a buck. The fight for freedom, achieved in 1865, continues today in lives of Black Americans and other underrepresented and marginalized groups.
The goal of these companies, that play a large role in the lives of consumers, should be to educate their stakeholders and employees about the significance and origin of Juneteenth. Furthermore, the goal should be to seek justice, freedom and equity for Black Americans in this country.
(P.S. Happy 5th Birthday to our baby girl, Aelicia, born on what some called the second Independence Day, June 19th).