Looking for Juneteenth ideas for work for your team in 2023? Honor Juneteenth with more than two dozen respectful and educational corporate team building activities.
This important federal holiday is a time to learn, grow, and connect with colleagues while honoring the significance behind Juneteenth.
Many companies are planning ahead and scheduling their virtual experiences to honor and celebrate this holiday. In this post, you’ll find dozens of creative ideas for your team to honor Juneteenth together in 2023.
Juneteenth 2023 team building ideas:
Read on for details on these Juneteenth ideas, and more ideas!
- Book an interactive virtual Juneteenth team building event
- Host a Juneteenth lunch & learn
- Support Black-owned businesses and restaurants
- Participate in virtual museum programming to learn about Juneteenth
- Share Juneteenth quotes to inspire your team and stakeholders
- Explore art, music, and literature reflecting on Juneteenth themes
- Match employees’ donations to causes that promote equity and social justice
TLDR: In this guide, you’ll find:
- Juneteenth ideas for work
- Exciting Juneteenth virtual events: 2023
- Juneteenth virtual activities for remote teams
- Remote team-building ideas to celebrate Juneteenth
- Juneteenth corporate events and activities
- Ways for remote teams to honor Juneteenth
- What not to do when honoring Juneteenth at work
Frequently Asked Questions About Juneteenth
What is Juneteenth?
Also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. In the U.S. and beyond, Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th each year. Juneteenth is one of America’s most important holidays, as well as the newest federal holiday.
Why do we celebrate Juneteenth?
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But, the new law was not widely enforced in Texas.
Two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger and his federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom had been granted to the enslaved people, and they were now free. He also shared the news that the Civil War was over.
This led to a days’ long celebration and continues to be an annual celebration today.
When is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 each year. Because Juneteenth is a federal holiday, when June 19 falls during the weekend, the holiday may be observed on the Friday prior or the Monday after.
Is Juneteenth a federal holiday?
Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joseph Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, S. 475. This was the result of years of advocacy from activists and organizers, who advocated for this important occasion to become a federal holiday.
Juneteenth was the first new federal holiday since MLK, Jr. Day was designated in 1983.
When did Juneteenth celebrations begin?
The celebration of Juneteenth as a holiday began in Galveston, Texas in the 1860s. Now, many Americans honor this day throughout the country.
Juneteenth is a day of celebration and hope. Additionally, it is a day to pay honor and respect to the many people who suffered greatly under slavery. As a result, it’s a good idea to aim for a balance between fun and seriousness in your Juneteenth virtual events.
Want to learn more? Explore the holiday’s history with this write-up from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Why should corporate teams honor Juneteenth?
Honoring Juneteenth and its history can help your corporate team create a more inclusive culture, learn together, and spark dialogue.
With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, major companies around the United States made a push to formally recognize Juneteenth as a corporate paid holiday. This effort helps acknowledge the negative impact of systemic racism and their company’s mission to create inclusive and diverse atmospheres.
A few companies that now recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday include Adobe, Allstate, Apple, Lyft, the NFL, Nike, Peloton, and Starbucks.
In addition to paid holidays, many companies offer Juneteenth work ideas for educational events. Since many people did not learn about the impact and history of Juneteenth and Juneteenth is not widely taught in schools, this post provides many options for companies to provide incredible and inclusive events during this important holiday.
How can corporate teams honor Juneteenth respectfully?
It’s important to understand that Juneteenth is a celebration – but also a time to reflect on continuing injustices.
As early as the first Juneteenth, African American speakers used Juneteenth and Emancipation Day celebrations as a day to celebrate freedom as well as raise awareness of continued racism and disparities in the country. It is critical that your company strikes the right balance between fun and seriousness for your Juneteenth events and activities.
Throughout this post, you’ll find ideas to respectfully and intentionally honor Juneteenth. When in doubt, consult your company’s human resources department, or engage an external consultant for guidance.
Juneteenth Ideas for Work: 2023
1. Book a Juneteenth Virtual Team Building Event – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
This interactive Juneteenth Team Building experience, featured in Lonely Planet as one of the best ways to honor Juneteenth, is an approachable and engaging way to learn some of America’s most important history.
During your hour-long session, your team will learn all about the history of this important holiday. Take an unforgettable virtual field trip with two knowledgable, on-location guides in Hampton, VA, and Austin, TX. Learn about Harriet Tubman and John Brown, the history of Juneteenth, why barbecue and red foods are associated with the holdiay, and so much more.
As an optional add-on, you can have themed Treat Boxes shipped directly to your employees’ homes. Treat Boxes feature incredible products from 100% Black-owned small businesses. For instance, employees will enjoy snacks and refreshments inspired by the history and traditions of Juneteenth, a commemorative candle, and a custom corporate card with your logo and information.
This virtual Juneteenth event is not a lecture, but a truly interactive experience that engages everyone!
Learn more and sign up for an impactful virtual Juneteenth team building experience.
2. Make Juneteenth a Paid Corporate Holiday
More and more companies are making Juneteenth a paid holiday for their employees. Some organizations that have made this move include Target, Nike, Adobe, Twitter, Square, the National Football League, and Harvard. Taking the day off allows your team to pause and reflect on the holiday’s meaning.
You could encourage employees to spend the day learning about social justice issues and Civil Rights. To make a deeper impact, provide employees with a copy-and-paste out of office message that shares about Juneteenth’s history and significance. This is a great way to share knowledge while showing the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality.
You can also “take the day on” instead of taking the day off – and complete a volunteer project, with some of the ideas below in this list!
Get inspired by what other companies are doing for Juneteenth with this USA Today article: These Companies are Giving Juneteenth Off to their Employees.
3. Host a Creative Juneteenth Brainstorming Session
For marketing and creative teams, host a brainstorming session on the topic of Juneteenth social media and marketing content. For example: what types of posts will your company share in anticipation of Juneteenth? Will you publicize your company’s efforts to recognize this holiday?
Planning your efforts ahead of time can result in additional learning and dialogue for everyone on your team. Additionally, you can find creative ways to educate and engage your social media audiences on this important topic.
For example, your Juneteenth images could be themed around Juneteenth colors (red, black, and green) or feature the Juneteenth flag. You might decide to share Juneteenth quotes or traditions. Or, try some interactive polls to test your audience’s knowledge and share facts about Juneteenth’s history.
Get started with our blog post: Ultimate Juneteenth Social Media Guide.
4. Match Employees’ Donations to Social Justice Focused Nonprofits
During the month of June (or all year round), consider matching your employees’ donations to nonprofits focused on social justice and Civil Rights. To stick within a budget, you can set a dollar limit per employee for your company’s matching gifts, or a total limit.
Starting a matching gifts program is a great way to inspire employees to support others while also demonstrating your company’s values. Plus, a matching gift program can help your company attract and retain employees. Be sure to discuss with your accounting team the potential tax benefits of making donations, too.
Not sure how to start a corporate matching gift program? Download the complete guide to gift matching from charity.org. This guide walks employers through each step of the process, to make matching gift programs easy.
5. Share Meaningful Juneteenth Quotes with Your Team
A great quotation has the power to inspire, educate, and enlighten your team. This Juneteenth, shine a light on Black voices by sharing meaningful Juneteenth quotes. Try sharing one quote with your team each day during the month of June, or during the week of Juneteenth. This will create a moment of inspiration and learning in the day that team members can look forward to each day.
To encourage a dialogue, share quotes with your team via a Slack channel or other chat app. Or, add Juneteenth quotes to an internal newsletter or team update email.
Get started with Parade’s list of 50 Quotes to Better Understand Juneteenth.
6. Watch a Juneteenth Video Together – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
For a rich team building experience that encourages discussion, try watching a Juneteenth video with your team and discussing it on a video call.
A few of our favorite educational Juneteenth videos:
- Grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee, Shares the Importance of this Historic Holiday (Southern Living, 6 minutes)
- Why All Americans Should Honor Juneteenth (Vox, 7 minutes)
- On Juneteenth (US National Archives, 1 hour)
Note: while the sentiment behind Juneteenth is ultimately uplifting, the imagery and experiences shared in some videos can be harrowing and difficult to process. Be sure to make this event optional, and allow participants to go “off camera” or leave the meeting as needed.
7. Research & Share the History of Juneteenth – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
Set up a video call for employees to virtually gather together on Juneteenth for learning and camaraderie. To prepare, a week or two before the meeting, assign each person a question to research.
Juneteenth topics to explore with your team:
- How did Juneteenth begin?
- Why is Juneteenth important?
- What was General Order Number 3?
- Who is Opal Lee, and why is she called the “Grandmother of Juneteenth?”
- What are some ways to celebrate Juneteenth?
- Why is it important for us to honor this holiday?
On the video call, everyone can take turns sharing what they learned during their research session. As a result, everyone has a chance to speak and share knowledge. You can guide the session so that it flows like a conversation rather than a structured Q&A session. However, if you are going to select this option, you may wish to pre-vet the information team members are providing, to ensure everyone feels comfortable with all of the information being communicated.
Ready to learn more about the history of Juneteenth? Visit juneteenth.com for resources and information about the holiday.
8. Learn About Juneteenth Food & Host a Virtual Potluck
Did you know that Juneteenth has traditional foods associated with the holiday? For logistical reasons, many foods associated with Juneteenth are portable, easy to travel with, and long-lasting.
Typically, a Juneteenth meal will also include red items such as hibiscus tea, red velvet cake, or strawberries. Red foods represent the blood that was spilled during slavery’s brutal history. The color red also holds spiritual and cultural significance in many African communities.
To explore Juneteenth food virtually with your team, ask each person to try their hand at making a dish. Then, gather everyone together on a video call for a virtual potluck! Everyone can show off what they created and share their research on the dish’s history.
Examples of foods that are associated with Juneteenth:
- Barbecue and fried chicken
- Sides like okra, collard greens, cornbread, and mac & cheese
- Pound cake
- Red drinks, like hibiscus tea or red Kool-Aid
- Red foods like watermelon, strawberries, and red velvet cake
Get started with this video: Try These Foods at Your Juneteenth Celebration (Inside Edition, 5 minutes). For more ideas, browse Oprah’s guide to traditional Juneteenth foods.
9. Participate in a Juneteenth Volunteer Project
One impactful Juneteenth idea is to make Juneteenth a company-wide volunteer day. For remote teams in the same city, consider organizing an in-person group volunteer activity with a nonprofit in your area. For teams spread across the globe, you can provide everyone with a paid day off to volunteer in their community. Or, look for virtual volunteer opportunities that allow everyone to collaborate on a project together.
While any volunteer project will help your team feel more connected to their community, consider seeking out organizations that are BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and/or organizations that empower and serve BIPOC people.
Find a Juneteenth volunteering opportunity with a nonprofit in your area at VolunteerMatch.org. Additionally, you can continue volunteering year-round with worthwhile causes!
10. Start a Virtual Juneteenth Book Club for Employees – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
This idea is perfect for employees who want to engage with Juneteenth learning on a deeper level. Consider organizing a virtual Juneteenth book club!
To begin, create a poll using an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey. Then, send it to your team so everyone can vote on which book they’d like to read and when they’re free to meet.
Next, order copies of the book for everyone and have them shipped directly to each person. Finally, during the month of June, you can have weekly virtual book club meetings for everyone to share their thoughts on the selected book.
When leading the meeting, it’s a good idea to come prepared with a list of questions for the group. That’s because creating an open dialogue helps build connections at work. So, it’s important to be sure that everyone in the group has a chance to share their thoughts and each person’s voice is heard.
Juneteenth Book Club discussion questions:
- What did you learn about Juneteenth, or Black history?
- What was the most memorable part of this book for you?
- Did this book make you reconsider anything in your life, or in our society? In what ways?
- What are you still curious about after reading this book?
Find a book for your team to read with Penguin RandomHouse’s Juneteenth Reading List. In this list, you’ll discover plenty of nonfiction and fiction page-turners related to the holiday.
11. Sponsor a Trip to Your Employees’ Local Museum
If your team is remote, you might not be able to visit a museum exhibit in person for Juneteenth. But, you can observe the holiday by encouraging your team to visit their local African American history museum! Offer reimbursement to each employee for a museum visit – and maybe even a lunch out!
The goal behind this idea is to help your team explore new ideas and learn about important history, in a way that feels participatory and allows them to break free from a screen. At the same time, your employees may benefit from a debrief session afterward.
Get together on a video call after your visits so that everyone can share their experience and what they learned. You can even share screens to present photos or video from your visits. Turn it into a recurring session and let everyone take a turn playing virtual museum tour guide!
Find a museum near you with this guide to African American museums in the United States and Canada.
12. Explore African American Art and Celebrate Black Creativity
In combination with the activity above – or as its own activity – explore African American art with your team! You can choose works that reflect on the topic of Juneteenth, from modern or historical artists.
Celebrate African American history and creativity together. Share your screen and present a work of art for discussion. To enrich your session, you can also watch a video or share an article on the selected artist. Learn more about their life and the work in front of you.
Moreover, you can invite each team member to take turns presenting a work of art and its meaning.
View Juneteenth artwork and photographs via the Harvard Art Museum’s article, Celebrating Juneteenth: The Power of Portraits.
13. Gift Employees Juneteenth & Black Pride Swag
Gift your employees a keepsake item that will help them demonstrate their Black pride or allyship all year long.
This idea works well in combination with other activities on this list. For instance, you could plan a Juneteenth volunteer day and encourage everyone to wear their t-shirt. Or, host a lunch and learn with a unique keepsake item to remind team members of the experience year-round.
Juneteenth-related gifts & keepsakes from Black-owned shops:
- ABCs of Black History T-Shirt
- “Black Lives Matter” Sweatshirt
- Juneteenth shirt
- “Black Girl Magic” Candle
Find more ideas with Good Housekeeping’s list of 60+ Black-Owned Businesses to Shop Now and Forever.
14. Support Black-Owned Businesses Year-Round – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
Treat employees while also supporting a Black-owned businesses!
For example, when birthdays and work anniversaries roll around, gift employees something special from a Black-owned shop, whether in person or online. You can also shop Black-owned for client gifts, team swag items, employee giveaways, and even everyday purchases like office supplies.
Better yet – take the opportunity to diversify your vendor list so that your team is equipped to support a wide variety of businesses year round, for any occasion!
For a creative employee gift or swag item, browse Etsy’s Black-Owned Shops. You’ll find stylish stationery, planters, and even cookies!
15. Listen to Juneteenth Inspired Music
Music played an important role in the lives of enslaved African Americans. Today, music still has profound meaning in African American culture. Moreover, many of the modern songs and musical styles we enjoy today were inspired by musical innovations and creations from the Black community.
There are many songs we can listen to that reflect on Juneteenth as well as themes of oppression, freedom, and the power of persistence in activism. Browse Juneteenth playlists and song recommendations and get listening with your team!
Read “Songs to believe in: A Juneteenth playlist” from NPR for poignant reflections on the holiday, along with song recommendations.
To learn more about how music history is Black history, check out our most popular virtual team building program: Music Evolution.
16. Host Family-Friendly Juneteenth Virtual Events – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
One of the benefits of remote work is the feeling of connectedness that comes from catching a glimpse of your team’s home life. In fact, you might be used to pets and children occasionally hopping into camera frame to say hello!
While in-office teams might host a company picnic or potluck to get to know everyone’s families, consider hosting a virtual story time for your employees and their little ones. The New York Public Library offers a fantastic video catalogue of Juneteenth Story Time videos featuring books for children and young adults.
With this activity, everyone can get in on the celebrations!
Browse the New York Public Library’s Juneteenth Story Time videos.
17. Plan a Juneteenth Lunch & Learn
Invite your team to a memorable Juneteenth lunch and learn session. During the meeting, you can hear from an expert guest speaker, host a Juneteenth panel discussion, ask questions, and spark important dialogues.
Additionally, add on to your lunch and learn by including other activities in this list. For instance, order lunch for your team members from a Black-owned restaurant or start your lunch and learn with an informative video. Additionally, you could use your Juneteenth lunch and learn as a kick-off for a volunteer project.
To get started, browse Juneteenth guest speakers available for hire through the All American Entertainment Speakers Bureau.
18. Treat Your Team to Lunch from a Black-Owned Restaurant – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
Whether your team is around the world or around the corner, you can treat everyone to a meal from a Black-owned restaurant!
Encourage employees to try someplace new, or get a meal from their favorite Black-owned restaurant. Either way, this is a fun and delicious way to honor the holiday. Moreover, this activity pairs perfectly with other ideas on this list. For instance, treat employees to lunch as you get together virtually for a lunch and learn, book discussion, virtual museum tour, or other activity.
To get started, visit eatblackowned.com, the internet’s largest directory of Black-owned restaurants. Find a restaurant near you, share the menu with your team, and let everyone pick the lunch they’d like delivered to them!
19. Participate in Virtual Events with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC)
As one of the country’s premiere museums devoted to African American history, the NMAAHC offers a variety of in-person and virtual Juneteenth programming each year.
Programs for 2023 are anticipated and yet to be announced. That said, the lineup typically includes lectures and guest speakers, musical performances, book readings, and other fun and educational activities.
Eager to explore the museum’s virtual programs before Juneteenth – or throughout the year? Explore the NMAAHC’s Curator Chat video archives. You’ll hear from the museum’s curators as they explain important moments in African American history. You can even virtually tour an exhibit.
Delve into the NMAAHC’s Juneteenth programming here.
20. Listen to a Juneteenth Podcast & Discuss – One of our Favorite Juneteenth Ideas for Work!
Listening to a podcast is a great way to learn something new while you’re cleaning, exercising, driving, or relaxing around the house. Try listening to a podcast episode about Juneteenth with your team – then discuss it together!
Offer flexibility by encouraging your team to listen to the selected podcast episode any time during the week of Juneteenth. Then, schedule a time for everyone to hop on a video call and discuss. Or, you can make this an active, ongoing Slack conversation throughout the week and allow everyone to chime in as their schedules allow.
One of our favorite Juneteenth podcast episodes? The Juneteenth Mixtape, from “Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi” (26 minutes).
21. Plan a Juneteenth Trivia Session
After learning about Juneteenth together, plan a Juneteenth trivia session to test your team’s knowledge! You can create your own list of trivia questions or find one online. Some ideas for trivia questions include:
- When is Juneteenth celebrated? June 19.
- When did Juneteenth become a federal holiday? June 17, 2021
- What is another name for Juneteenth? Emancipation Day
- When did Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation? January 1, 1863
- When were enslaved people in Texas finally freed? June 19, 1865
This activity works well in combination with some of the other ideas in this post. For instance, host a lunch and learn or Juneteenth book club. Then, plan a trivia session to see what everyone earned from the experience.
Use a service like Kahoot to set up your team trivia game and learn with your team.
22. Attend a Virtual Celebration of Juneteenth
Attend the 14th Annual Juneteenth NYC Festival – virtually! This special event includes both virtual and live events over the course of three days, from June 16-19, 2023.
This vibrant festival draws 20,000+ in-person attendees. The celebrations include music, dance, poetry, skits, history, vendors, and family activities. Specific virtual activities are yet to be announced. Be sure to check the event website, linked below, for details leading up to 2023 celebrations.
Learn more about JuneteenthNYC here.
23. Discover How Juneteenth Became a Federal Holiday
Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. But, it took decades of activism to make it happen.
Together with your team, learn about the leaders and organizers who advocated for the importance of Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Learn more in this TIME article: “The Best Ways to Honor Juneteenth, According to Activists Who Helped Make It a National Holiday.”
24. Encourage Employee-Led Initiatives
Do your employees have ideas they are passionate about to honor Juneteenth? Allow them creative rein and the opportunity to bring their ideas to life.
With the guidance of a manager and/or your human resources department, allow employees to organize a virtual event, a fundraising initiative, or other project that resonates with them.
This is a great way to offer employees leadership opportunities, autonomy, and creative challenges while providing value to the team. Remember, since these activities are work related and play a valuable role in building corporate culture, time spent organizing Juneteenth activities should be paid and on the clock.
25. Carry the Significance of Juneteenth With You All Year
Like Black History Month, Juneteenth can and should spark larger, year-round conversation at your company. Juneteenth is a perfect time to review your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts, pay and hiring practices, and leadership diversity.
As we celebrate Juneteenth, it’s important to remember that the fight for equality continues. We are inspired to see more organizations adding their voices to this movement and honoring the spirit of Juneteenth.
Strengthen your diversity and inclusion efforts with our guide: 16+ Ideas to Foster Diversity & Inclusivity for Remote Teams.
What Not To Do When Honoring Juneteenth
Avoid Putting Employees on the Spot
Don’t put employees on the spot by asking them to share in company communications without talking to them first.
Historically, Juneteenth was celebrated only in Texas, so not every African American may have traditions associated with this holiday. Moreover, enslavement is an emotional topic. As a result, not everyone may feel comfortable sharing their thoughts or feelings about it.
Don’t Over-Commercialize Juneteenth
Juneteenth should not be treated as a marketing gimmick. In recent years, companies have come under fire for pushing out Juneteenth products that do not reflect the holiday’s history and heritage.
Instead, consider purchasing from Black-owned businesses who produce beautiful Juneteenth focused products, or support a cause that benefits the Black community.
Don’t Contribute to Harmful Stereotypes
When honoring Juneteenth, be intentional in your choices. For example, watermelon is both a food that is historically served at Juneteenth celebrations and also a food that has significant negative stereotypes due to centuries of demeaning caricatures. Be thoughtful so that you do not contribute to harmful stereotypes.
When planning your celebrations, remember that the holiday has a rich history that incorporates a range of diverse communities and cultures. So don’t assume what should be done based on generalizations. Listen to experts and do your research ahead of time.
However you choose to honor the day, we’re wishing you and your team a meaningful Juneteenth experience in 2023!