In the Field
How Campaigns Can Participate in Juneteenth Celebrations
June 15, 2021
Juneteenth is one of the most important holidays in the United States. It celebrates freedom, and forces us to recognize our nation’s painful history of slavery. Juneteenth is also a celebration of African American culture, as well as the contributions of African Americans to American society. As a result, it should be acknowledged by any political campaign and every Democratic political organization.
Celebrating and recognizing the significance of Juneteenth can build community within a campaign, as well as a community. Let’s discuss how to celebrate Juneteenth with your political campaign.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is held on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is sometimes referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day,” or “Emancipation Day.” The holiday also celebrates the history and achievements of African Americans.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves in the Confederacy free. However, it took until June 19, 1865 for slaves in Galveston, Texas to find out this news. They immediately began to celebrate with feasting, song, dance, and prayer. Juneteenth celebrations soon grew in popularity across the country, and have continued to this day.
How Can You Participate in the Celebration of Juneteenth?
The celebration of Juneteenth has become an important symbol of African American culture. Juneteenth has taken on additional significance amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, and the epidemic of police brutality America continues to face.
Here are a few ways your campaign can commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth.
Juneteenth: A Day of Service
Juneteenth is an opportunity for your campaign to participate in a day of service. Encourage members of the campaign to engage and volunteer for social justice organizations and causes.
Through a day of service, candidates and campaign teams should take part in activities that support the African American community. Engage with the Black Lives Matter movement. Participate in local activism. Educate yourself, your campaign, and your community on the importance of Juneteenth, and the crucial work that remains to ensure equity, inclusion, and justice for the African American community, and the Black community as a whole.
In order to learn more about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, check out NDTC’s blog post: “Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement.”
Host an Event or Uplift a Juneteenth Event
Juneteenth is an excellent day to host a campaign event. A Juneteenth event provides the chance to bring together the local African American community and engage in the important work of constituency organizing. Campaigns must invest in the community with long-term goals and the intent to build authentic relationships.
The event could be a traditional campaign event with speakers and invited guests. Or, it could be completely different. Your campaign could donate educational materials to a local school, or meet with local leaders at a local community center to discuss fair and equitable housing. The possibilities are endless.
It’s important to note that you do not have to create a new event. If there is a Juneteenth event happening in your neighborhood, city, district, or region, uplift their event and attend! Many communities have a commission dedicated to celebrating cultural holidays. You can volunteer and join the activities as a member of the community.
When planning to attend or host an event, be sure to get input from local Black leaders. Ensure the event focuses on uplifting the Black community, rather than promoting your campaign.
Engage on Social Media
Social media is a great platform to raise awareness of important days such as Juneteenth with voters.
For Juneteenth, I plan to amplify the event my city is hosting, while using my voice to help promote and educate others. I’ll share content written by that commission or by other Black Americans. — Rachel LaPointe, Member of NDTC’s Facebook Candidate Community
Prior to June 19th, plan how your campaign will commemorate Juneteenth on social media and put it into your digital content calendar. Share tweets and posts from local Black leaders, and promote local activism or events taking place on Juneteenth.
Renew Your Campaign’s Commitment to Inclusion
Juneteenth is a great opportunity to renew your campaign’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Inclusive messaging is essential for any political campaign. Ensure messaging uplifts Black community members. Make necessary adjustments to campaign and communications plans, as well as your digital content calendar.
In order to learn more about inclusive messaging, read NDTC’s blog post: “Language Matters: Inclusion in Campaign Messaging.”
An atmosphere of inclusion within your campaign is crucial. This includes building a culture of feedback, as well as diversifying recruitment of staff and volunteers. These practices create a sense of belonging among staff, and the diversity of perspectives will benefit your campaign.
Advocate For Equity and Justice Beyond the Celebration of Juneteenth
By running for office or working on a political campaign, you play an active role in shaping the future of Democratic politics. As a result, it’s your responsibility to advocate for equity and justice for African Americans and every marginalized group beyond a single calendar day.
As a Black man, I believe we should highlight racial and economic disparities, as well as our treatment as a society of the most vulnerable. Our work has just started. — Tevis Verrett, Candidate for LA County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District in 2022
NDTC’s course, “Foundations of Inclusive Practice,” will show you how to do just that. You will learn about advocating for diversity and inclusion, as well as how you can drive systemic change in your community.
Juneteenth is an important reminder of the struggles faced by African Americans throughout our history. It is a celebration of the progress we’ve made, as well as an opportunity to acknowledge the work that remains to be done to ensure an equitable, just society for all African Americans.
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