Looking for Juneteenth virtual events in 2021? Thinking about how to honor Juneteenth in 2021 through corporate events? Many companies are planning ahead and scheduling their virtual experiences to honor and celebrate this holiday. In this list, you’ll find 9 creative ideas for your team to learn about Juneteenth together.
TLDR: In this article, you’ll find:
- Juneteenth virtual events 2021
- Remote team-building ideas to celebrate Juneteenth
- Corporate Juneteenth virtual event ideas
- COVID-safe group activities for Juneteenth
What is Juneteenth?
Also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth marks the emancipation of people who had been enslaved. In the U.S. and beyond, Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 each year. 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 soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas. He told the enslaved African Americans that they were now free. He also shared the news that the Civil War was over.
The celebration of Juneteenth as a holiday began in Galveston, Texas in the 1860s. Now, many Americans honor this day throughout the country. It is a day of celebration and hope. And, it is also 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?
In 2020, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, major companies around the country made a push to formally recognize Juneteenth as a corporate paid holiday, recognizing the negative impact of systemic racism in the country and their company’s mission to create inclusive and diverse atmospheres. Allstate, for example, explained in a press release, that Juneteenth would be “an annual company holiday to provide Allstaters the opportunity to reflect on this monumental event and engage in their communities.”
Here is just a sampling of the companies who now recognize Juneteenth as paid holidays:
- J.C. Penney
Other companies like Best Buy offer a paid volunteer day on Juneteenth, while others like Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor offer moments of silence on Juneteenth. In addition to paid holidays, many companies offer educational events focused around Juneteenth or Juneteenth celebrations. Since many are not familiar with the impact and history of Juneteenth and Juneteenth is not widely taught in schools, this list provides many options for companies to provide incredible and inclusive events during this important holiday.
9+ Ideas for Juneteenth Corporate Virtual Events 2021
1. Book a Juneteenth Virtual Team Building Event – one of our favorite Juneteenth Virtual Events!
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 forgotten history. Your team will enjoy incredible treats from Black-owned businesses plus learn about the history of this important holiday and why barbecue has been a celebration food through history. Additionally, your team will hear from two on-location guides in Hampton, Virginia, and Austin, Texas. Preferred by companies like Coca-Cola, this is NOT a lecture, but a truly interactive experience that engages everyone. We like this option, too, because it’s interactive rather than listening to a lecture.
Ready to book your virtual Juneteenth Team Building in a Box experience? Learn more and sign up!
2. Make Juneteenth a Paid Corporate Holiday or Volunteer Day
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. Or, offer paid time off for employees to volunteer in the community. Consider organizing a group volunteer activity with a nonprofit in your area. To make a deeper impact, encourage employees to add information about Juneteenth to their out-of-office message. This is a great way to share knowledge while showing the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality.
Take the day off – or take the day on! Find a Juneteenth volunteering opportunity with a nonprofit in your area at VolunteerMatch.org.
3. Participate in Virtual Programs with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC)
The NMAAHC has offered virtual Juneteenth programming in years past with lectures from influential speakers. Details for the museum’s 2021 Juneteenth programs are yet to be confirmed. But, the day is likely to once again include virtual options. The museum’s programming last year included free all-day virtual presentations, stories, songs, workshops, and more. Once 2021 details are shared, your team can make plans to tune in virtually together. Keep an eye on the museum’s virtual lectures and events year-round, too.
Eager to dig into the museum’s virtual programs? 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.
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. 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.
Not sure how to start a corporate matching gift program? Download the complete guide to gift matching from charity.org. It walks employers through each step.
5. Host a Virtual Juneteenth Lunch & Learn – FREE!
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. For example:
- How did Juneteenth begin?
- How many states officially recognize Juneteenth? Which states do not recognize Juneteenth?
- What was General Order Number 3?
- What are some ways to celebrate Juneteenth?
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 conversation so that it flows like a conversation rather than a structured Q&A session. However, if you are going to select this option, we recommend that you pre-vet the information to be provided so that teams feel comfortable with all of the information being communicated.
Ready to organize a Juneteenth virtual lunch and learn? Visit juneteenth.com for resources and information about the holiday.
6. Start a Virtual Juneteenth Book Club for Employees – FREE!
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 SurveyMonkey poll. Everyone can vote on which book they’d like to read and when they’re free to meet. Then, 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. This is 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. To start, here are some great questions that work well with any book choice.
- 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.
7. Raise Awareness for Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday
Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance. The 3 states that do not recognize Juneteenth are Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota. There is a growing movement of people who believe Juneteenth should be a federal holiday.
In fact, one change.org petition has nearly 1.6 million signatures. The petition was started by 94-year-old activist Opal Lee from Texas. She has been advocating for Juneteenth to be recognized in this way for years. In the past, Congress has passed resolutions noting Juneteenth’s significance in our country’s history. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas introduced a law in 2020 that, if passed, would have made Juneteenth a national holiday. Then, in mid-February 2021, Congressional lawmakers reintroduced the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
Stand with advocates who want Juneteenth to be a national holiday. Your company can show support by taking a stance on your social media and in other communications
8. Support a Black-Owned Business – one of our favorite Juneteenth Virtual Events!
Consider treating employees to lunch from a local black-owned restaurant. Or, gift them something special from a black-owned business. For a creative employee gift or swag item, browse Etsy’s Black-Owned Shops. You’ll find stylish African print masks, stationery, planters, and even cookies. Or, 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.
Want to support multiple Black-owned businesses at once while also treating your team? Then order a gift box featuring delicious food items and other treats! 90% of box vendors are women- and minority-owned businesses. Your team will enjoy peach jam, caramel popcorn, cheese straws, and more.
9. 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 GoodHire’s tips for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Wishing you and your team a meaningful Juneteenth experience when the holiday arrives!