Celebrating Juneteenth: An Interview with Kim Crowder
Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated annually on June 19th, is a day to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. Juneteenth is the oldest holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. and was only recently made a federal holiday in 2021. However, the history and importance of this day is still unfamiliar to many. Learning and truly understanding the historical depth of Juneteenth is critical as citizens of the United States, a diverse country built from the hands of people of color.
Aside from learning more about the importance of this day, companies and businesses also play a major role in carrying out an honorable celebration of Juneteenth. This holiday is a day to honor, acknowledge, and remember the significant history of African Americans. Yet, many big companies and businesses may approach the celebration of this holiday by taking a more insensitive route. Rather than honoring and spreading awareness of Juneteenth with the power and leverage they, as big employers, have, they might instead try to commercialize the day and capitalize from this important occasion.
Founder and CEO of Kim Crowder Consulting, Kim Crowder, says that Juneteenth is not an opportunity for retailers to commercialize the day. Kim Crowder is one of the country's leading Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Speakers. She emphasizes that Juneteenth "is not a day to be taken off without thought or intention to its significance."
The Garden State Woman Education Foundation was pleased to be able to speak with Kim Crowder and see how companies can properly commemorate Juneteenth, as well as gain insight on what Juneteenth means for women in leadership. Crowder also provided advice on what young people should know about spreading awareness and celebrating Juneteenth. Below are her insightful responses to our questions.
How can companies use their power to honor and promote Juneteenth in a positive way?
- "If companies were directly sending all profits to Black U.S. communities or supporting Black businesses, that would be ideal. Often, businesses do not present leadership in a way that is led by Black or historically ignored perspectives. This is a great way for businesses to connect the dots and explore the impact that Black people have had in ways that have benefited the organization. Also, reviewing pay equity practices, hiring, and how they are directly sharing resources with Black communities through supporting nonprofits and Black business is a great way to move this forward."
How does this significant event impact women of color and women in leadership?
- "Women who are descents of enslaved Black Americans can rest and find gratitude for what their ancestors unjustly endured. For other women who do not have this background, make sure that the way you show up for the Black community is not only intentional but supports equity by being a true advocate, especially in the workplace. Often, that means gaining an understanding of what this looks like and being comfortable with feedback when that does not happen."
What advice do you have for young people to learn, commemorate, and spread awareness of this holiday?
- "It depends on the background of the young person. My biggest wish is that school systems and states would be open to learning history in its full context. That includes things that are not as flattering as the U.S. would like to own. Commemorating this holiday is based on how connected your ancestors were to this issue. For those of us with historically ignored backgrounds, rest is enough. For those who are not descendants of enslaved people, take time to learn more about not only the impact of Juneteenth but also the impact of Black Americans on our overall society, including ways they can advocate for and advance Black liberation."
As mentioned by Crowder, Juneteenth is a holiday that has a deep impact on the country as a whole, and so an honorable commemoration is essential. Learning the history and meaning of Juneteenth is one vital way to celebrate. Moreover, companies have a responsibility as well in honorably celebrating the holiday, not by commercializing the day, but by properly supporting black communities, employees, and businesses.
For more information on Kim Crowder Consulting, visit, https://www.kimcrowderconsulting.com
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