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Brief Published: 19 Jun 2020

How Brands Honour Juneteenth


Brands, including Nike, Target, Vox Media, Twitter, Ogilvy and Square will now observe Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation in the US, as a paid company holiday.

June 19 marks the day in 1865 when federal orders proclaiming the freedom of enslaved people were enforced in the state of Texas. The Black Lives Matter uprisings have brought engagement with systemic oppression to the top of brands' agendas, and so the day is receiving topical (if overdue) attention.

In the pursuit of actively honouring Juneteenth, US sports drink brand O2 has committed its June 19 sales profits to Know Your Rights Camp with the goal of raising awareness about the significance of the day. Streaming service Hulu has moved the premieres for its shows, "Love, Victor" and "Taste the Nation", to not detract from Juneteenth – perhaps next year, the company will have dedicated content ready to educate audiences on its history.

Black communities in the US have celebrated Juneteenth since 1866, while activists have worked to raise the profile of the day. Creating space for celebrations is a first step. Future engagement should focus on filling that space with resources helping and encouraging consumers to "collectively reflect on our past, take action in our present, and build towards our future," as Hella Juneteenth, a Bay Area-based collective put it. For ideas on how to tackle that task, check out Anti-Racism Education Boom. For more on brand responses to the anti-racism movement, look out for our Language of Now 2020 Update, publishing on June 30.