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Juneteenth 2021: 6 Meaningful Ways Your Business Can Take Part

May 26, 2021
The C2FO Team

June 19 is a day for commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and celebrating rich African American history and culture. Here’s how to join in observing the holiday.

Freedom Day. Jubilee Day. Emancipation Day. It goes by many names. Most often known as Juneteenth, it’s an annual day of significance for the Black community and our nation’s history.

This year, Juneteenth seems to carry even more weight — and opportunity — as communities across the US engage in peaceful protest, activism and honest conversations about race and equal rights.

A historic turning point

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that all enslaved people were freed, as declared in the Emancipation Proclamation. The troops’ arrival came a full two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation into law. Recounting the memories of that momentous day in June 1865 and its festivities would go on to become an annual event, growing in presence and purpose for future generations.

Today, 48 states officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance. It remains a time for celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S., while cultivating knowledge and appreciation of Black history, arts, culture and leadership.

How C2FO is honoring Juneteenth

There are many ways to commemorate Juneteenth. If you choose to participate, try honoring the day through a combination of action and awareness, as well as celebration. 

At C2FO, we’re donating all marketplace revenue generated on Friday, June 18, to three outstanding nonprofit organizations dedicated to equity, inclusion and opportunity in underserved and disadvantaged communities. 

If you’re a C2FO customer, you have an opportunity to bolster our efforts on June 18 simply by participating on that day in early payment markets. By selecting invoices for accelerated payment on that Friday, you’ll help contribute to the cause of providing more resources for under-resourced businesses and individuals. To learn more about how C2FO is honoring Juneteenth, click here.  

An opportunity for all businesses to engage

Larger businesses and brands, such as Nike, Twitter, Square, Lyft, MasterCard and the NFL, recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for employees. But for small and mid-sized businesses, that may be a difficult option.

Fortunately, you can still observe the occasion and participate in the spirit of Juneteenth in meaningful and creative ways. This year, Juneteenth falls on a Saturday, so you may want to schedule your business-sponsored activities for Friday, June 18.

1. Start a company-sponsored day or half-day of service.

Take a cue from retailer leader Best Buy and make Juneteenth a paid day of volunteerism. Partner with a local nonprofit and give your employees a way to support a worthwhile cause actively.

Organizations such as food pantries, community gardens and parks often welcome volunteer groups. Be sure to check with them on current COVID-19 restrictions or rules. Not only are you doing good for the community, but it’s also great for team building.

2. Share Juneteenth resources with your team.

If a sponsored day of service is not feasible for your business, you can encourage your employees to volunteer or participate in events on their own time. MasterCard has promoted a Day of Solidarity, which they also describe as Community Day — “an opportunity for us to unite and lead with humanity, through individual acts of solidarity.”

Provide your employees with a shortlist of local organizations, scheduled public events or educational resources they can check out or take part in as they choose. 

3. Promote Black-owned businesses via social media.

The city of Syracuse, New York, has partnered with Juneteenth festival organizers and AT&T to launch an eight-week digital campaign aimed at boosting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in Syracuse. AT&T is funding the campaign that invites community members to nominate businesses in the food, fashion and film industries to be featured.

 Consider a similar effort by using your company’s social media platform or partnering with other companies to amplify minority-owned businesses in your area. Lending your voice for these entrepreneurs reflects your commitment to supporting diversity in business. You’ll also raise the visibility of some terrific products and services that deserve to be known.

4. Make a financial donation.

Observe the day by making a corporate contribution to a civil rights group or other charitable organization in honor of Juneteenth. In 2020, online retailer Amazon announced a $10 million donation to social justice organizations in observance of the day.

If you feel it is appropriate, share with customers or clients the news of your gift, letting them know that their business and partnership made that financial support possible. Use corporate communication and social media channels to share information on how to authentically choose a nonprofit organization to partner with that impacts your unique community and customers. 

5. Support local Black-owned restaurants.

Treat your staff to a delicious catered lunch by ordering from a local Black-owned establishment. You can easily search your area for restaurants using the Eat Black-Owned online directory. If most (or all) of your staff works these days remotely, offer them a gift certificate to one of these eateries to enjoy on their own time.

6. Inspire your employees with literature.

The Hill We Climb, a poem written by rising star Amanda Gorman and recited during the 2021 U.S. Presidential Inauguration, is an uplifting verse about the power of unity and hope. Gift your team with their own copy of this famous work of literature in the spirit of Juneteenth’s enduring message.

Better yet, organize an internal book club and encourage members to meet weekly or biweekly. Choose from a number of books curated by publisher Penguin Random House to provide the opportunity for greater education, inclusion and healthy discussion about diversity issues among your team.

In summary 

While Juneteenth is not yet a national holiday, many local and state governments have taken steps to recognize the occasion. In February, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was introduced in Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

As the popularity of the 155-year-old holiday continues to grow, so will the opportunities for businesses of all sizes to honor and recognize Juneteenth as a day to celebrate freedom, equality and understanding among all Americans. 

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