By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

Juneteenth, or June 19, commemorates the day that enslaved Black Americans were freed after the Civil War. On that day in 1865, the Union Army troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to emancipate the last of the enslaved people in the U.S. 

Though the holiday was celebrated in different parts of the country for decades, awareness of the day grew for the general public after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and President Biden’s move to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

A number of high profile, White-owned companies like Nike, Starbucks and Target quickly announced that they would recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for employees and publicized statements of support. Others, like Walmart, J.C. Penny and Dollar Tree capitalized on the holiday by selling Juneteenth themed products ranging from apparel and food to paper plates and decorations. 

Douglass Austin is the president and CEO of UPD Consulting, a Baltimore-based consulting firm that helps public and private organizations reach their anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion (ADEI) goals. (Photo Courtesy of Douglass Austin)

Their efforts led some marketers and consultants to believe that the gestures were performative instead of genuine. 

“There’s an aspect of virtue signaling that’s associated with a lot of these companies celebrating Juneteenth for the first time,” said Douglass Austin, president and CEO of Baltimore-based UPD Consulting. “They say they’re down with the cause, but the real benefit to the organization is from public relations. They’re not actually improving working conditions for the Black and Brown people that work in their organization or, more importantly, changing the outcomes of the Black and Brown people that they serve.” 

Brian Taylor, founder of Baltimore-based digital marketing agency Goldiata Creative said that White-owned companies using Juneteenth as an opportunity to run a sales promotion is inauthentic and should be avoided. 

Brian Taylor serves as the founder of Goldiata Creative, a digital marketing agency in Baltimore. (Photo Courtesy of Brian Taylor)

“Press releases to announce how they are making internal changes to acknowledge Juneteenth is the most authentic thing they can do, even if it still feels inauthentic to us Black consumers,” said Taylor.

In an effort to promote buying Black for all of your Juneteenth needs, the AFRO is proud to present a list of Black-owned companies to patronize for the holiday:

We Celebrate Black was the first company to mass produce Juneteenth party supplies when it opened in 2020. (Photo Courtesy of We Celebrate Black)

We Celebrate Black

Brandy Goodner opened this party supply company in 2020 after discovering that there was a shortage of retailers selling Juneteenth-themed party products. We Celebrate Black offers a comprehensive catalog of Juneteenth party supplies that includes balloon sets, plates, cups, photo booth props and photo backdrops. The company also sells Juneteenth T-shirts, footwear and tote bags.  

The Humped Zebra’s clothing line is designed by New York native Tiffany Davis, who created a Juneteenth shirt in honor of the holiday and what it represents. (Photo Courtesy of The Humped Zebra)

The Humped Zebra

New York designer Tiffany Davis created this unisex clothing brand in 2012 to start conversations. The Humped Zebra offers apparel ranging from T-shirts to crew neck sweatshirts. 

To commemorate the holiday, consider checking out the shirts she named the “Year of Juneteenth,” “Need Money for Reparations” and “Black Proud Rich Envied Great.”

Sisters Robin McBride and Andrea McBride John founded their own wine company in 2005. Their popular “Black Girl Magic” wine honors the Black women that have been important in the McBride sisters’ lives. 9Photo Courtesy of McBride Sisters Wine Company)

McBride Sisters Wine Company 

If you plan to sip on wine during your Juneteenth celebration, consider shopping from the McBride Sisters Wine Company. Sister duo Robin McBride and Andrea McBride John created the company in 2005 out of their love of the beverage. Today, it’s the largest Black-owned wine company in the country. The “SHE CAN” and “Black Girl Magic” wines honor the important Black women in the sisters’ lives. 

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is named after former slave and first African-American master distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green. (Photo Courtesy of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey)

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey

If you’re looking to make cocktails for your celebration, try checking out Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. This Tennessee whiskey brand is named after Nathan “Nearest” Green, a former slave and the first known African-American master distiller. 

Green was a mentor to a young Jasper Daniel, who is known for creating Jack Daniels. Serial entrepreneur Fawn Weaver created Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey in 2016 after learning about Daniel and Green’s history. The brand sells seven types of whiskey, ranging from a single barrel rye to a master blend. 

Latesha Williams and Jay Bobo created Black Card Revoked to provide Black families with a trivia game about Black popular culture, traditions and history. (Photo Courtesy of Black Card Revoked)

Black Card Revoked 

Latesha Williams and Jay Bobo created this card game in 2015. Black Card Revoked allows up to six players to engage in trivia about Black popular culture, history and nostalgia. The deck includes a variety of general knowledge and poll questions, like “What’s the best R&B group?” There are five editions to choose from. 

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.  

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