Juneteenth is Now a Holiday at the Design Museum
June 19 commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S.
Image credit: Hella Juneteenth
By Sam Aquillano
Today I’m announcing Design Museum Everywhere will recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for our staff. Juneteenth is June 19 and commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States on the date in 1865. Could there be a more important day in our country’s history than the day the practice of slavery was ended? While slavery ended, the systematic denial of rights, safety, happiness, and life itself continues for the Black community. Can a holiday solve this? Not alone, but it is an annual acknowledgment of our history and of the work we all need to do to stand with and for Black Americans. A day off creates space for employees to reflect, to learn, and to take action within this movement — I encourage my team to do all three on June 19. We recently posted an incredible list of resources to help with this work. I hope my employees take it a step further, find a way to support a Black-owned business on June 19 (and many other days throughout the year.)
I want to acknowledge Quinnton Harris and the entire team at Hella Creative who launched the Hella Juneteenth initiative. Quinnton was an early volunteer at the Design Museum and his work continually inspires us. Included below is their press release for the Hella Juneteenth initiative.
Juneteenth: A Reclaimed 2020
How a Bay Area Group of Creative Professionals are Mobilizing Change
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oakland, CA, (June 11th, 2020) — After weeks of turmoil and national unrest, a group of Bay Area creatives decided to channel their frustrations into impactful change. Their initial focus began with celebrating Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States (June 19th, 1865). The reclaiming of Juneteenth captures the zeitgeist of a national movement demanding support for initiatives that create safety, pride, change, and equity for the Black community. By bringing awareness to the rich history of Juneteenth, they are working to create a formally recognized & celebrated national holiday and further opportunities to help support Black-owned businesses.
Most Americans are familiar with the historical significance of July 4th, 1776. We celebrate gaining our independence and declaring ourselves free from British rule. Though the Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal, and endowed with unalienable Rights, these freedoms were never extended to African Americans until 1865. Systemic racism continues to deprive, harm, and murder with impunity. Even presently, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness still feel denied to Black America. As this year marks the 155th year since the final slaves were freed, it’s time for historical steps forward.
After launching hellajuneteenth.com in less than 48 hours, their artful presentation of Juneteenth accompanied by several helpful resource guides has stimulated conversations between employees and their companies. Over the span of seven days from June 13th through June 20th, they plan to give the holiday a new touch. Daily themes incorporate everything from traditional celebrations, helpful aids to jumpstart your #takeoffjuneteenth for the week, a history lesson about the holiday, templates for your OOO message, several letter templates for help notifying your employer, tips on being a better ally, and a message to government representatives.
Although it has not officially become a federal holiday, HellaCreative has already gained the public commitments of more than 50 major companies including Twitter, Square, Buzzfeed, and VoxMedia in incorporating the holiday as a day off for all employees going forward.