Juneteenth Messaging Guide
By Mia Logan
During the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement, several progressive advocacy groups, nonprofits and organizations began recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday, despite decades of celebration by Black communities around the country, specifically in Galveston, Texas, where Juneteenth originated. Last year, President Biden officially made June 19 a federal holiday, making it the first time Juneteenth has been recognized on a national level.
Given Fenton’s work with clients who have a sharp focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the agency’s Black Employee Resource Group has developed this handy messaging guide to help bring clarity to your messaging and ensure you’re able to commemorate the holiday online in an authentic, respectful and strategic way.
If your organization focuses on organizing, mobilizing or interacting with Black audiences, we recommend:
- Encouraging them to make the connections between the history of Juneteenth as a day of liberation and subsequent celebration. If possible, be sure to include a call out to Juneteenth’s Southern roots, especially its connection to descendants of enslaved Black people in Texas.
- Taking a celebratory, joyful, or hopeful tone in your messaging. In a post-George Floyd -Breonna Taylor era, Juneteenth has evolved into a holiday that some organizations like to use a way to educate allies and organizations about the history and role that slavery has played in shaping the systemic inequality Black communities face today. If the client that you are working with has decided to make this a political and social awareness moment for themselves, we’d advise they still explore themes of joy and hope as driving forces of change.. Some ways that Black communities have celebrated Juneteenth in the past include:
- Parades, festivals, jubilees and pop-up events
- Hosting cookouts, bar-be-ques and family gatherings
- Pageants and rodeos
- Drum circles, concerts and musical/theater performances
If your organization focuses on racial justice, equity, diversity or inclusion for all communities, we recommend:
- Highlighting Juneteenth as a day of liberation for Black Americans, AND calling out the historical significance of the holiday. One way to take your post a step further is to acknowledge how post-slavery, Black Americans continue to fight for liberation and make the connection between this work and the work that your organization is doing.
- Including a mention of Juneteenth’s Southern roots, especially its connection to descendants of enslaved Black people in Texas.
- Note: The National Museum of African-American History and Culture has this handy write-up on the history of Juneteenth.
- Using your Juneteenth messaging as a call to action, especially for non-Black POC and allies to participate in. As a note: many people also see Juneteenth as a much deserved day of rest and reflection for the Black community.
- If your organization is planning to commemorate Juneteenth with a day of action, service or reflection, feel free to share your social media content.
If your organization does not have a specific focus on issues related to racial or social justice, we recommend:
- Acknowledging the history of the holiday and highlighting the fact that 2022 is the first year that many companies and organizations can celebrate it as a federal holiday.
- Note: if your offices are closed for the holiday, highlight that as well.
- Keeping the tone of your posts neutral or reflective. Keep in mind that Juneteenth is not a moment for corporations or organizations to tout DEI facts or shift the focus to their commitment to diversity and equity. Additionally, while clients can celebrate Juneteenth, it’s best to come off as thoughtful and considerate of what this holiday means to millions of Black Americans, especially those who are the descendants of enslaved people. Sometimes attempts to sound jubilant about the holiday itself can come off as glib or disrespectful to the origins of the holiday.
- Avoid using Juneteenth as a way to sell or promote any products, programs or services your client offers as a specific tie-in. For example, if your client is running an incubator to increase the number of Black people in tech, do not use Juneteenth as a way to promote your upcoming cohort or talk about the impact of this work on Black communities today.
We hope this guide has been helpful!