June 19: In this section of the Craft Brewers Guide to Cultural Celebrationsyou’ll find a brief history of Juneteenth, a set of considerations to help you avoid common missteps, suggestions and recommendations for your Juneteenth commemoration or celebration, and a set of useful links.
Juneteenth provides a great opportunity for craft brewers to foster authentic connections with African American communities and learn from civil rights advocates and other organizations that celebrate black history and culture. African Americans or Blacks make up approximately 12% of the legal drinking age population in the United States. However, according to recent data from Nielsen Scarborough, only 4.5% of American craft beer consumers are black. If the craft brewing industry were to reach black consumers at the rate it reaches all consumers nationwide, it would add more than 1.5 million new enthusiasts. Most importantly, craft beer businesses would benefit from deeper and more meaningful connections to their communities, exposure to ideas and perspectives that may have gone unheard, and access to a larger pool. range of employable talent.
As with any other cultural observance, it is important to engage Juneteenth with thoughtful intention, sensitivity, and respect. Without these considerations, craft brewers may find themselves relying on stereotypical images or notions of black identity, infringing on the intellectual property of black creators (for example, by making a beer referencing the name or image of a musician or artist without permission), or failing to include members of the Black community in the planning and development of efforts to celebrate that same community.
Juneteenth is timed to make the most of the seasonal business spurt in early summer by engaging new customers between Memorial Day and July 4th. This entry to Craft Brewers Guide to Cultural Celebrations will guide you in your efforts to observe Juneteenth in a way that is inclusive, respectful and fair to your brewery.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is the abbreviation of “June nineteenth”. The date marks the anniversary of General Order No. 3, proclaiming the freedom of enslaved people in Texas; two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.
Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth invites Americans to celebrate freedom and achievement for African Americans while encouraging continued personal development and respect for all cultures. Today, government agencies, schools, and organizations like Nike, Vox, NPR, and the Brewers Association officially recognize Juneteenth by canceling classes, offering paid time off, or designating a day of retreat. In the case of Minnesota retailer Target, hourly workers receive time and a half if they work on June 16, and salaried employees receive paid time off. Formal observances like these contribute to broader diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and help companies recruit diverse talent and build relationships with broader constituencies.
Observe Juneteenth in your Brasserie
Before you begin, review our list of general considerations before celebrating any cultural celebration. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does include some useful conversation starters to consider before you start planning an event, beer outing, fundraiser, or any other way to mark a cultural celebration. . Specific actions will and should vary from brewery to brewery.
Here are some ideas to incorporate into your brasserie or bar that embrace the spirit of Juneteenth.
Hit the right tone
Remember Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of legal slavery in the United States. Although you should remain respectful of the complex legacy of slavery and its impact, Juneteenth is not a bleak occasion. Events should be full of life and conviviality in a warm and welcoming space.
“Juneteenth is a joyful holiday, not just for people of African descent…but for all Americans,” says Denise Ford-Sawadogo, co-owner of New Jersey’s Montclair Brewery. Montclair Brewery invites its local community to celebrate Juneteenth by hosting a celebration in its beer garden and launching a collaborative beer, Jubilee Red Ale Brewed With Hibiscus, with New York City Harlem Hops.
Create learning opportunities
In the case of all cultural observances, learning must precede action. However, learning doesn’t have to be a chore! Use Juneteenth learning as a way to spark employee and customer curiosity, build relationships with nonprofit partners, explore the history of your local community, or participate in staff development.
- Discuss how Juneteenth activities could further your company’s overall diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals and efforts. If you’re unsure how to start integrating DEI into your organization, check out the Diversity and Inclusion for Small Independent Craft Brewers reading list.
- Set aside time at a monthly staff meeting or create a short survey to get staff ideas on ways to recognize and celebrate June 19th. You can use our resource to host more inclusive and effective meetings to make your conversation easier.
- Invite a speaker to lead a dialogue on the successes and challenges of the local or regional African American or Black community and explore synergies. Your local urban chamber of commerce, NAACP chapter, or college can be productive partners.
- If your organization has an employee resource group or an affinity group for members of the black community, invite them to use a time or placeholder to educate their colleagues about Juneteenth.
- Share this article via a staff newsletter, provide insight in a weekly team email, or print this guide to post in common areas.
Engage community members through partnerships
In her keynote address at the Craft Brewers 2022 Conference, President and Co-Owner of Russian River Brewing Company, Natalie Cilurzo, spoke about the importance of operating with a clearly defined purpose and how this has supported the success of the brewery and created deeper bonds with the community of Santa Rosa, California. “Our strong desire to support and give back to our communities, both internally and locally, the beer community and beyond, quickly became… the core of our purpose definition.” Partnering with individuals and organizations in your June 19 observance efforts is an opportunity to build relationships with others that are aligned with your organization’s overall values.
- Reach out to local black-owned businesses or homebrew clubs to ask if you can support their June 19 activities and efforts.
- Connect with your municipal offices, historical societies, schools and colleges, tourist boards, or economic development agencies to become a partner in annual June 19 events they can host. Even if you don’t officially become a partner, plan to attend. Better yet, volunteer!
- Make meeting space available for Juneteenth events hosted by organizations or individuals that are closely related to your organization’s purpose or values.
- Donate to a charity or African American organizations in the form of a cash donation, gift cards or a beer donation. Include your team by inviting employees to recommend organizations they are involved with or charities in their networks.
- Designate the proceeds of a collaborative beer or a percentage of dining hall sales on June 19 for a donation to an organization or initiative that supports and celebrates black history and culture.
Use affirmative images and communications
Many organizational leaders fear communicating about cultural traditions that are not their own. While good intentions and employee enthusiasm can motivate leaders to speak up when cultural observances arise, lack of relevance, implications of cultural appropriation, or complacency can create far more harm than good. .
- Avoid using images or written communications that draw on stereotypes of African American or Black culture or that infringe on the intellectual property of Black creators, musicians, athletes, etc.
- Invite community members to contribute creative content for labels, signage and social media content related to Juneteenth. Remunerate creators fairly for their work.
- Use social media strategically! Accounts can be used to curate engaging content or amplify the voices (with permission) of other accounts, or feature partners, local businesses, or other African American entrepreneurs in your city.
Stay committed and engaged
The perception of opportunism is the enemy of authenticity. This means that engaging with cultural heritage or identity-based observances is inherently a double-edged sword. This double-edged sword, however, can be blunted by a simple strategy: don’t wait for holidays and celebrations to engage with cultural traditions, stories and communities. Cultivate opportunities to support the African American community throughout the year. Authenticity and consistency are key!