Organizational Wellness

Juneteenth Celebration Ideas: How to Hold a Meaningful Commemoration at Work

May 21, 2024
Last Updated May 21, 2024

From Pride-themed workouts to Administrative Professionals Day parties, workplace celebrations allow your staff to connect with their colleagues on a deeper level.

Juneteenth is no different! And while the newest U.S. federal holiday does come with a somber reminder, that’s also what makes it so special. Juneteenth is a unique chance to bring the whole team together and bond in celebration.

That's why so many businesses and organizations have started to seize the moment. With meaningful Juneteenth celebration ideas, you can honor this moment in American history while strengthening your organizational culturefostering employee engagement, and promoting inclusion and wellbeing at work.


What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas. They announced the end of the Civil War and proclaimed freedom for all enslaved people in the state. This event occurred more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and finally put the executive order into full effect. 

When Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Juneteenth has always been celebrated on June 19, but the date only recently became an official national holiday. Early celebrations date back to the late 1800s and usually involved church services, dances, and public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, celebrations typically include parades, festivals, and educational events that honor Black culture and history. 

Why Do Meaningful Juneteenth Celebrations at Work Matter?

Juneteenth celebrations are a high-energy affair, balancing emotion and reflection with festive joy. That's what makes celebrating the holiday so impactful in the office. Organizing a meaningful day forges a better workplace culture while energizing and uniting employees.

Foster an Inclusive Environment

Juneteenth is a terrific chance to show your commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion. Whether it’s through an activity or sharing their experiences, when employees from all backgrounds come together, the workplace feels more inclusive. Being collectively valued and understood is a powerful experience that can enhance overall harmony and collaboration at work.

Strengthen Your Employer Brand

Celebrations also strengthen your employer brand. Demonstrating a commitment to cultural diversity will attract top talent looking for workplaces that espouse the same ideals. You'll even impress employees and stakeholders by establishing a reputation and setting a standard for corporate responsibility.

Meaningful Juneteenth Celebration Ideas

Here are some ideas to help you plan a Juneteenth celebration at work this summer.

Celebrate Through Learning

  • Hold a workshop: Discussions on the history of Black music, literature, and art would all serve as enriching Juneteenth workshops. These provide an opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy and resilience of Black culture in America.
  • Host a speaker: Black historians, authors, advocates, politicians, and community leaders make excellent guest speakers who can discuss the historical significance of the day. In-person talks can be incredibly engaging and help people connect with leaders in their community, while a virtual event can broaden your speaker pool. 
  • Organize a film screening: Screenings are a great way to honor the holiday while sparking discussion. Many documentaries explore the history of slavery and the ways it continues to shape America today. I Am Not Your Negro and 13th are two examples, but there are dozens of others. Hollywood movies like Hidden Figures, Just Mercy, and Selma are also rich bases for conversation.
  • Have a panel discussion: You can have a panel discussion after a guest speaker, after a film screening, or as a stand-alone event to facilitate learning. This is a great opportunity to hand the mic to employees who want to share their perspectives on race, culture, and workplace diversity.
  • Start a book club: A book club initiative can be particularly effective for smaller companies. There are dozens of titles to choose from. A few examples are Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Celebrate Through Action

  • Organize a Juneteenth luncheon: Nothing says celebration like food, which makes organizing a luncheon one of the simplest ways to commemorate the holiday.
  • Have cultural performances: While workshops can teach about history and culture, performances will dazzle your employees and get them into a festive mood. Musicians, dancers, and poets can all honor Black culture with different performative flavors.
  • Set up an interactive element: Art projects requiring collaboration are another fantastic way to unite employees in celebration. Get everyone involved by asking the whole team to contribute to a Juneteenth-themed mural. Another idea is a storytelling event where employees can share and bond over their experiences.
  • Show your support: Similar to Black History Month in February, June is a great time to bring more attention to and support Black-owned businesses. An easy way is to organize a fair that gives employees the chance to buy and learn more about the products such companies are selling. Another way to show your support is by coordinating a volunteer day when employees can give back to the community. You can even try partnering with organizations that support racial justice and equality.

Creating a Lasting Impact Beyond Juneteenth

Juneteenth celebrations do more than commemorate a historic day — they can strengthen bonds, enhance your company's culture, and show a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Ultimately, meaningful celebrations and initiatives are part of a larger philosophy emphasizing employee wellbeing. When your staff feels included and respected, they’ll be happier, more engaged, and far more likely to adopt a strong organizational mentality that will last well beyond June.

Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist and see how you can prioritize your team’s wellbeing!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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