Celebrating Juneteenth: How to Learn & Unlearn

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PetPlate is a Black-Owned Business and Juneteenth is very close to our hearts. We’re happy to be a resource for you today as you look for more information.


Let’s Talk the History of Juneteenth


Juneteenth takes place each year on June 19th, and, though it just became a federal holiday in 2021, it is a significant day for Black Americans and American History since its inception in 1865. 


In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people in the Confederate States. While President Lincoln declared via executive decree that enslaved people be freed in 1863, not all enslaved people were immediately emancipated. The news could only be passed through Union soldiers who went through the Confederate States emancipating those still enslaved, and until it was ratified by the House and the Senate–which was passed and signed by President Lincoln in early 1865 as the Thirteenth Amendment–it could not be fully enforced in places still under Confederate control. People, both enslaved and free, were still under the Confederacy’s control until Union soldiers reached the far edges of the Confederate States.


On June 19th, 1865 Union soldiers reached Galveston Bay, Texas, and declared that all enslaved people were free by order of the President. The immediate emancipation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved people became known as Juneteenth and is celebrated as the day when all Americans truly became free. 


Juneteenth’s prominence in American History has ebbed since its inception. It started to gain national attention after “Solidarity Day” was held on the National Mall following the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. Fifty-three years later, President Biden declared it a federal holiday in 2021, securing its place in the American public’s lives and national memory.


Angela Tate, curator of women’s history at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, says “The significance of Juneteenth is, thus, part of a continuum of moments where African Americans have advocated for their full participation in American citizenship and commanded the maintenance of the memory of our history and culture in the face of resistance and racism.”


While Juneteenth is a day celebrating freedom, we must acknowledge its history rooted in the ignorance and racism that still pervades American society today. That is why, this Juneteenth, we are stepping away from our desks to celebrate our freedoms, but more importantly to take the time to listen to BIPOC voices in our community and better educate ourselves so we can work to build a more equitable, just, and free world because there are still many instances of racism, both blatant and subtle, that occur in our country today. 


What can I do today?


If you’re looking to continue unlearning internalized racism, we recommend taking a look at this recent decision which upheld the trial court’s determination to temporarily prevent The Fearless Fund from administering its grant program for Black women business owners, ruling that the program is likely to be found illegal for violating the 1866 Civil Rights Act.


This decision underscores a broader issue that minorities face when seeking venture capital. Startups led by minorities often encounter significant barriers in securing funding. 


Initiatives like The Fearless Fund are crucial as they help level the playing field, ensuring that people of color have equitable access to the opportunities necessary for business success. This setback not only impacts individual businesses but also highlights the systemic challenges that minority entrepreneurs continue to confront in the venture capital landscape.


If you are looking for more resources for learning and unlearning, please visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Juneteenth Toolkit. You can also make a point to shop Black-Owned Businesses. We have a blog focused on other pet related companies with Black Leaders that you can read here