Juneteenth is a celebration that takes place on June 19th, signifying the Black liberation movement. On June 19th, 1865, approximately two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger landed troops at Galveston, Texas, and issued General Order No. 3 declaring all slaves free. Despite the ratification of the 13th amendment, slavery in Deleware and Kentucky didn’t end until several months later.
Yet, even after slavery was abolished, Black-owned businesses continue to be victims of racism and segregation. Slavery is a social, economic, and political force that contributed to the ever-changing American culture. As significant as this day is unless we recognize that without economic growth and the success of these businesses, the revitalization of Black neighborhoods and the incredulous wealth gap will remain unchanged.
If you recall, banks and White policymakers created policies, rules, and regulations designed to prevent Black businesses from thriving—in which Black companies continue to feel the impact presently. Without financial resources to start, grow, and scale a business, Black business owners had to become crafty and scrappy with how they accessed funding, often relying on community organizations like Black Girl Ventures for financial, social, and educational resources.
The journey is long and slow, yet Black women continue to be the fastest-growing entrepreneurs than any other group. Black businesses are already susceptible to economic recessions mostly because they tend to have fewer employees, are located in already vulnerable neighborhoods, and fewer lending options—forcing them to go out of business.
One organization that’s taken this challenge on is Path to 15|55. This is a collaborative initiative between experts from every sector, designed to grow Black businesses and their communities based on research that shows if 15% of Black-owned businesses can hire one more employee, the American economy could grow by $55 billion. When 15% of these businesses receive everything they need to grow, it will create 600,000 jobs, close the inequity gaps, and create a proven path to wealth creation.
Let’s celebrate this day and remember that we must implement national and global investment changes on a governmental level, both private and federal, to change this landscape powerfully. We need to create shared accountability and involve everyone in these sectors to remove the systemic barriers currently in place, which will help build the capacity for Black-owned businesses. On this day (and every day) celebrate by circulating your dollars into Black businesses.