Happy Juneteenth! This year, we celebrate strength in the form of freedom. This commemorative holiday marks a significant moment in American history and remains a symbol of the enduring fortitude of the Black community.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom day, commemorates June 19,1865 — the day Black Americans were emancipated. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, in Galveston, Texas, it was not until two years later that more than 250,000 Black people came to know they were free. The first Juneteenth celebration took place in Texas in 1866. Today, Juneteenth is a day to celebrate Black culture, history, and strength, and to honor the communities who fought to have equal rights and privileges.
Tonal observes Juneteenth as a company-wide holiday in solidarity of the importance of this milestone for our Black coaches, community members, and employees.
In honor of Juneteenth, Tonal coach Paul Wright and Mariel Kanene, Tonal’s Partnership Sales Supervisor, share their personal experiences of celebrating joy, strength, culture, and identity.
Paul Wright: Lead with Passion
Growing up, I saw my Mom wake up religiously at 4 am to get her workout in before her work day as a probation officer. My Mom’s natural focus and passion for life and fitness made it easy for me to develop the same discipline from a young age.
At the age of 25, I found myself at a crossroads. I was still pursuing football, working a nine-to-five, teaching group fitness classes, and trying to get on reality television. However, almost everything fell through at once. In the end, I had group fitness and a passion for movement, and it was a no-brainer for me to go full throttle with that as a career.
I wanted to share this natural love with others so they could discover the amazing capabilities of the human body and mind. We all are truly limitless, inside and out. I’ve carried these messages with me for the past six years and try to drive it through my workouts and programs as a Tonal coach.
We should all try to find passion in some kind of movement and let it lead us on our journeys through life. When we lead with passion, that’s when the magic happens.
Mariel Kanene: Why I Will Always Dance on Juneteenth
When I think of Juneteenth and Pride sharing the same month of celebration, I think of my ancestors, both past and present. My song is about a boy who found pride in his existence on a journey to find belonging. My dance is of a young man who believes that being your strongest is embracing the process and hard work of healing and building.
Despite my own wavering faith and self-doubts, I will always dance on Juneteenth because the burden of being my ancestors’ wildest dreams is a dance of owning my truths no matter how messy.
My dance reminds me to celebrate even when no one else is celebrating you. I’m not exactly sure what will become of my story, but I choose to pay homage to the souls of my ancestors — taken, lost, never forgotten, dead and alive, who have suffered and suffer injustice simply for existing, yet still choose to live out their joy.
My story is still unfolding, but I hope it’s one that makes my ancestors proud and one that inspires the minds of those to follow. May it be a story of a boy who found courage to rise against adversity and still muster a melody and two-step to the music in his heart — believing like his ancestors, that true liberation and freedom comes in the ability to be your strongest.
We encourage the Tonal community to take Juneteenth as a time to reflect on the long struggle for equality and how far we still have to go.
What you can do:
- Celebrate Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth and all year round: Self-care, fitness apparel, a weekend dinner, home decor — make it a point to buy from Black-owned businesses. Sign this petition to protect Black-owned businesses.
- Celebrate Black athletes and creators: Diversify what you read, watch and listen. Intentionally support the work of Black athletes, filmmakers, musicians, chefs, artists, writers, influencers, and educators.
- Donate: Give to organizations that work to elevate Black communities. Black Lives Matter, The Bail Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Color of Change are a handful of many organizations where you can donate . Use this link to find organizations where you can donate across the USA.
- Sign petitions: Take some time out on Juneteenth to sign petitions, and yes — your signature can make a difference.