Commemorating, not commercializing

As industry leader Lisa Osborne Ross wrote in an op-ed this week, Black consumers want change — not Juneteenth-branded products. And yet, brands just keep commercializing Juneteenth. We could point you to many examples of what not to do (see here and here, for starters). But today, we’re taking a moment to highlight a handful of the important ways in which brands are commemorating Juneteenth.


This weekend, Dr. Opal Lee, the 95-year-old social activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, will lead a 2.5-mile walk through Fort Worth. An annual tradition since 2016, Opal’s Walk for Freedom represents the years it took for the enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to reach Texas. As part of its Juneteenth efforts, JCPenney will join Dr. Lee on the walk; the retailer is additionally sponsoring a “virtual” Opal’s Walk with JCPenney employees in other locations who want to join in with a 2.5-mile walk of their own. JCPenney also hosted a virtual conversation with Dr. Lee, in which she reflected on the significance of Juneteenth. The event was streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, and it can be rewatched here.


The "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom” concert will celebrate the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth with a star-studded lineup of Black artists and musicians. Jhené Aiko, Earth, Wind & Fire, Killer Mike, and Billy Porter are just a few of the performers who will be taking the stage at the Hollywood Bowl. The event will air live worldwide on all CNN platforms at 8pm EST on June 19, with pre-show coverage hosted by CNN anchor Don Lemon. “While commemorating Juneteenth, it's important to acknowledge that Black Americans still face racism,” Johnita Due, senior vice president and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer for CNN, said in a statement.


Camille Rose, a beauty brand best known for its curly and natural hair products, is hosting a Beauté Noir Fest in celebration of Juneteenth. Taking place at Old Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta, Camille Rose founder Janell Stephens describes the event as “Afropunk meets BeautyCon.” The festival – which is free to attend – will feature live performances from hip-hop group Goodie Mob, among others. There will also be a fashion show showcasing the work of local fashion designers, and jewelry, clothing, and beauty products for sale from Black-owned and local Atlanta businesses. Stephens will donate a portion of proceeds from the event to Moving in the Spirit, an Atlanta-based creative youth development program.