Give & Take: Honoring Juneteenth in a Meaningful Way
As the movement towards social and racial equity continues across the country, a recent spotlight has been put on Juneteenth. Far from a new holiday, last year, we saw a surge of companies providing employees paid time off to recognize the monumental day. This continued spotlight is prompting individuals to educate themselves and carve out time to give back to their local communities.
What is Juneteenth?
While many believe that slavery completely ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn’t until June 19th, 1865, that the United States officially ended slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation became a law in January of 1863, however, it took a full two and a half years for the approximately 250,000 enslaved people in Texas to receive this message. Many see Juneteenth as the United States’ true Independence Day.
Although the U.S. ended the formal institution of slavery over a century ago, we have yet to overcome racism, bias and discrimination that communities of color face each and every day.
How will Prosek Partners Recognize Juneteenth?
Prosek Partners continues to expand efforts to drive a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture both within and outside of our walls. We host educational opportunities for our employees to continue to learn from each other or from external speakers. We also aim to create safe spaces to express concerns, share personal stories and ask questions to encourage continued growth and support.
As Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, Prosek Partners will be commemorating the day by closing on June 18th and encouraging our Prosekians to use Friday as a day of service. Juneteenth is a reminder that we must expand our efforts to eliminate racism and pursue justice, truly, for all.
How You Can Get Involved
As Juneteenth approaches, here are some ways to get involved and honor this important day:
- Join a local event. Across the U.S., Juneteenth will be marked with parades, street fairs and demonstrations to commemorate the day and call for racial justice. Find a local event and take part in the movement, following the CDC guidelines for safety precautions.
- Support Black-owned businesses. Many local businesses struggled through the pandemic, with Black-owned businesses experiencing disproportionate impacts. Now is the perfect time to give back by supporting local, Black-owned businesses. Visit your favorite spot or check out EatOkra for an excellent guide to help find Black-owned restaurants in your area.
- Volunteer in your community. This year has been especially hard on those in need. Consider visiting a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or you can find a list of organizations focused on supporting the Black community in your local area here.
- Take the opportunity to learn. To drive progress, we all need to keep listening and learning. Juneteenth is an excellent opportunity to carve out time for just that. Below are a few new books and movies to check out:
- Two Distant Strangers is an Oscar-winning short film released in 2020 that tells the story of a man stuck in a time loop during which he has deadly run-ins with the police, addressing the systemic problem of police brutality against Black Americans.
- Somebody’s Daughter is a memoir from writer and podcast host Ashley C. Ford that was newly released earlier this month. This powerful story describes Ashley’s experience as a poor, Black girl who experienced a difficult childhood with an incarcerated father.
- Miss Juneteenth, released in 2020, tells the story of a single mother and her daughter who she enters into a Miss Juneteenth beauty pageant. The film dives into their experiences, the burden of representation, the stories of generations of black women, as well as the history and spirit of Juneteenth.
- What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri, just released in April, can teach us all about how we can be actively anti-racist and effect true change in the fight against institutional racism.
- Letters to My White Male Friends by Dax-Devlon Ross is set for release on June 15. You can pre-order the book now for a candid piece on how racism and white supremacy harms everyone, and how we can sustain a commitment to fighting for racial justice. To deepen your support, you can pre-order from a local Black-owned bookstore.
- Visit a museum dedicated to African American art, culture and stories. There are a number of museums across the U.S., including:
- National Museum of African American History and Culture – Washington, D.C.
- National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis, Tennessee
- The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration / The National Memorial for Peace and Justice – Montgomery, Alabama
- The Studio Museum – Harlem, New York
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, Ohio
- The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – Kansas City, Missouri