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Honoring Juneteenth at Google

Three Black women sit at a table looking at photographs. Video shows a Local Guide on Google Maps showcasing Black history landmarks in New Orleans.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It marks the day when troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to establish Union authority and ensure that all enslaved people were freed — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The following year, freed persons in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day,” now known as Juneteenth. 

Today, it’s a time for reflection and celebration of Black history and culture. We’re commemorating this day by elevating the voices of Black artists and creators across our products and in our workplace, as well as empowering Black small business owners to thrive.

Celebrating Black artists and creators

Google Doodle with images of parades, music, food and community in decorative ironwork.

Today’s Google Doodle art created by Detroit-based guest artist Rachelle Baker.

Our Juneteenth Doodle, created by Detroit-based guest artist Rachelle Baker, honors the celebration of Juneteenth with images of parades, music, food and community from past and present. It also pays homage to Black artistic contributions by alluding to decorative ironwork, a style which can be found throughout Southern architecture, and which was often forged by enslaved peoples and unrecognized freedmen. 

On Google Play, we’re showcasing apps by Black developers and an interview with Julio Rivera, the founder of Liberate — a meditation app designed to support the Black community. You’ll also find kids books on Black history and culture, plus an interview with Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar on their new book, “You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism” and more.

Showcasing Black historical figures, moments and places

Black-and-white tintype photograph of an African-American woman in 19th century dress standing in front of a fence, taken between 1855-1900

Although this woman’s name has been lost to history, this proud and dynamic portrait suggests a scenario of achievement and accomplishment. Tintype photographs like this one, hosted by the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, provide a snapshot of one strata of African American life after the end of the Civil War.

On Google Maps, April Hamm, a New Orleans based Local Guide, educator and musician, has curated a list of local historical landmarks and local Black-owned businesses in New Orleans. By visiting historic places in New Orleans — such as Congo Square and the Free People of Color Museum — and adding information about them to the map, April makes history more accessible and advocates for collective memory. 

You can also learn more about Black historical figures and moments, like Juneteenth, every day with the Google Assistant by simply saying “Hey Google, what happened today in Black history?” from your Assistant-enabled smart speaker, smart display or phone. We worked with renowned civil rights activist, author and lecturer Dr. Carl Mack to raise awareness of many important cultural events and leaders.Together, we hope to celebrate freedom and promote prosperity in Black communities and beyond. 

User on a smartphone asks Google Assistant: Hey Google, what happened today in Black history? Google Assistant responds: On this day in 1865, General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in accordance with President Lincoln’s January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The order freed those Black people still enslaved in Galveston, Texas. This day has come to be known as Juneteenth. Six months after Juneteenth, slavery was still legal in the U.S. and nearly 225,000 Black remained enslaved in Kentucky and Delaware. Slavery was officially abolished in the U.S. with the ratification of the 13th Admendment by Georgia on December 6, 1865.

Today The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection is sharing the history of the holiday and portraits of newly-freed men and women on the Google Arts & Culture platform. The Greenwood Art Project is also debuting an artistic exploration of Juneteenth on the platform to highlight the spirit of freedom and what that means today in the wake of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Supporting Black small businesses 

Grow with Google Digital Coaches, a program that has provided digital skills training and coaching for more than 60,000 Black and Latinx small businesses, will host four live training sessions on its social media account sharing insights and tips to help Black-owned businesses thrive. Digital Coaches from New Orleans, Washington DC, St. Louis and Cleveland — who are Black business owners themselves — will address questions they often hear from small business owners related to websites, analytics, and more.

Creating space for our employees to reflect, learn and celebrate 

We know it’s important to give our employees space and time to reflect, learn and celebrate Juneteenth. So for the second year in a row, we instituted a no-meetings day for Googlers on Friday, June 18 and hosted a two-hour event, in partnership with our Black Googler Network, spotlighting music, history and storytelling. The event included a virtual sit-down with Ms. Erykah Badu, who spoke about her music, racial justice and her experiences as a Black woman growing up in Texas, where Juneteenth began, followed by a musical performance. 

As a company, we’re proud to recognize this day across our products and in our workplace. And, as we celebrate Juneteenth this year, my hope is that everyone continues to celebrate and recognize Black liberation on this day and beyond.

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