3 Designers On The Most Meaningful Ways To Celebrate Juneteenth

“Keep educating ourselves and others on the history of racial injustice.”

Juneteenth was always special to me, because it’s the day my sister was born, bringing a renewed sense of joy and fulfillment to our family. But our parents always made sure we knew the historical significance, too. It represented the day in 1865 when the last group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned they had been freed from the horrors of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and the signing of the 13th Amendment.

While the nation celebrated July 4th with fireworks and cookouts and pool parties, our parents were quick to remind us that African-Americans were still enslaved in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved.

Like Kwanzaa, Juneteenth seemed like a holiday only my relatives and friends celebrated. People outside these circles either had never heard of it or mocked us for honoring it. But my parents were emphatic about us acknowledging the day anyway. They refused to participate in a narrative that ignores our culture, erases our history, and denies us our humanity.

Now, the country is catching up. After the racial reckoning spurred by the killing of George Floyd, non-Black people finally felt compelled to address the ills of racism, a cancer embedded in every corner of our society.

Along with reading anti-racist literature, supporting Black-owned brands, decrying police violence, and embracing the Black Lives Matter movement, Americans were mentioning Juneteenth in popular conversation for the first time ever.

Companies were giving employees the day off, brands were changing their marketing to be Juneteenth-friendly, and activists were calling to make it a federal holiday. Fast-forward a year later and the Senate unanimously passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 15, which then passed through the House of Representatives a day later (14 Republicans still voted against it). On Thursday, President Biden signed it into law surrounded by a group of Black people including the first Black Vice President Kamala Harris. Juneteenth is officially a national holiday.

It’s a watershed moment in history and a joyous occasion, of course, but as someone who grew up seeing their culture shamed or ignored, the sudden transition leaves me feeling uneasy.

I’m old enough to remember when Usher’s Juneteenth shirt (with July 4th crossed out) was considered controversial, now people are scouring the Internet for Juneteenth T-shirts to wear. My parents would delay our Juneteenth celebrations to the weekend or evening after a long day at the office; now my sister will always have the day off for her Juneteenth birthday.

What will become of Juneteenth when it’s celebrated on a national scale? Will it be reduced to a marketing ploy? An excuse for a long weekend? And how do we reconcile this new holiday with the fact that so many of our demands have yet to be addressed: reparations, police brutality, voting rights, and even discussing race in the classroom?

Searching for answers, I turned to 3 Black designers and entrepreneurs marking the holiday with new collections and celebrations. Ahead, they open up about why Juneteenth is important to them and how people can celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.


Sharon Chuter, CEO of UOMA Beauty & Partner For Just Fab’s Shine Through Collection

Why is Juneteenth important to you?

For Juneteenth, it’s usually a moment that I’m reminding everyone ‘hey, I know you’re focusing on this moment right now, but I really want you to celebrate your freedom overall,’ in terms of nothing could hold us down after 400 years of shackles.

It still didn’t hold us back, it never broke our spirit. And that’s what we should be very proud of: the fact that, through everything, even up to today — what we go through as Black people is unnatural — we’re still going. So, I think Juneteenth is a reminder of resilience, of perseverance. It reminds us why we should never stop.


Blake Van Putten, CEO & Founder Of Cise

Why is Juneteenth important to you?

Juneteenth brought uniformity and unity to the community around me. The world now sees this day as a federal holiday and we are forced to have tough conversations that have helped grow the world around us. Having a brand or passion during this time, I’ve felt heavily supported and backed by the world, because it allows us to continue to circulate the Black dollar and positively make a change.

Why should Juneteenth be regarded as more than just a symbolic holiday?

We’ve been placed together through many trials and tribulations. Now, we celebrate with a day that highlights our progression and allows us to be closer with positive intention and not from the forcible struggle. The Black community has thrived tremendously during this time and we are moving in a beautiful new renaissance with Black-owned businesses, jobs, and careers.

How can people celebrate Juneteenth in a way that actually makes an impact?

Join and grow the community. If you are passionate about anything, you can always transcribe that talent to help the people around you. Identify ways that your community can be helped — just because it’s not monetary does not mean that it is not important.


Sari Baez, VP Of Sales & Marketing At Diplomacy

Why Is Juneteenth important to you?

Juneteenth is important because of all it signifies. It forces one to think about slavery and freedom in all different forms, and the places in the world where they still exist today.

Holidays exist to teach us lessons and instill values in us through tradition and repetition. In this regard, Juneteenth is more than symbolic, it’s a celebration of freedom and escape from bondage and I love that it’s being recognized as a federal holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the US. That’s progress and shows how far we’ve come as a nation.

How can people celebrate Juneteenth in a way that actually makes an impact?

I think the easiest way to celebrate Juneteenth is to talk about Juneteenth and keep educating ourselves and others more on the history of racial injustice. Building the level of dialogue around it brings it more and more into the mainstream.

Donating to a black charity, shopping at black-owned businesses and paying tribute to the contributions of African Americans in the world we live in today is another way to celebrate.

This is one of the reasons why we at Diplomacy felt strongly about dropping our "Free The Future" collection on this day. [With proceeds benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of Houston], we’re able to give back to the community and highlight our impact on culture in a positive way.