With Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday just one year ago, the significance of the day is being celebrated by the masses. Whether big or small, this year’s Juneteenth celebrations were more widespread than ever.
Parades in Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Syracuse, Atlanta, Denver, New York City, and many more cities across the United States helped commemorate the end of the legal enslavement of Black Americans. Many events began on Friday and continued throughout the weekend. Portland’s 50th annual Juneteenth celebration kicked off with a parade on Saturday and resumed festivities on Sunday.
CNN hosted a Juneteenth concert with artists such as Khalid, Chaka Khan, Ne-Yo, Michelle Williams, Mickey Guyon, Jhené Aiko, and more. The event was filled with powerful messages and moving commemoration, and it even featured a video cameo from Beyoncé. Yolanda Adams opened the show with her performance of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Large companies such as Snapchat, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, Nike, Lyft, Zillow, Google, and Starbucks honored Juneteenth in various ways, including paid time off for employees or time-and-a-half, meeting cancelations, and office closures. Since it is a new federal holiday, numerous businesses are working to adjust calendars accordingly and appropriately to respect the importance of the day.
Across the country, families gathered with fireworks, music, and plenty of food. Large-scale celebrations focused on sharing the history of racial inequality and emphasizing the work yet to be accomplished while celebrating the many strides taken.
Although the holiday has gained positive public support and recognition via intentional celebrations, several companies are facing backlash for their Juneteenth branded products. While the efforts of many companies intended to commemorate the end of slavery and support the new federal holiday, many are being considered “tone-deaf” as they appear to capitalize on the holiday solely for profit.