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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.