With Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday, the creative agency Iron Light teamed up with Heal America to help Americans understand the significance of Juneteenth. Heal America, which fights racial injustice with love and redemption, wanted to partner with the “grandmother of Juneteenth” Ms. Opal Lee because she is an icon and her incredible passion helped finally make Juneteenth a national holiday in 2021. Texans have been celebrating Juneteenth for years but the objective of our campaign was to inspire Americans to unite and celebrate this holiday together. As Ms. Opal Lee says, “it’s not a Texas thing. It’s not a Black thing. It’s freedom for all.” Heal America also wanted to elevate the voices of Black community leaders that are deeply invested in bringing our country together to showcase ways Americans around the country can celebrate Juneteenth.
The objective of the campaign was to educate people that Juneteenth is the celebration of blacks in Texas finding out in 1865 that, since 1863, they technically had been freed from slavery. Justifiably, it sparked a celebration. Additionally, another objective of this campaign was to highlight that Juneteenth is the celebration of the very concept of freedom, resilience, and of love. Heal America wanted to invite Americans to celebrate Juneteenth if they never had before and to inspire them to participate in the celebration and the struggle because this is a great opportunity and if we seize it, Juneteenth will function as a catalyst that will make an impact in our society.
To achieve our goals of educating Americans on the importance of Juneteenth and inspiring everyone to come together to celebrate, we made a series of six videos comprised of storytelling from the grandmother of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee, and community leaders like Antong Lucky and Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr., co-chairs of Heal America to explain the traditions and history of Juneteenth. We created a TikTok account to release these videos and also posted them to other social media platforms (like Instagram). We saw that thousands of people were searching for Juneteenth content on TikTok and wanted to match our storytelling with the people searching for information and content about Juneteenth. Our videos ranged from historical content with an educational focus to the cultural significance of red velvet cake. We released these videos leading up to Juneteenth to help educate and inspire people to come together and celebrate Juneteenth.
The top 3 videos on TikTok for the Heal America Juneteenth storytelling campaign featured Ms. Opal Lee, Antong Lucky and Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr.
Video #1: Ms. Opal Lee and Antong Lucky discuss how Juneteenth is not just an African American holiday. In the 36-second video, Ms. Opal Lee says “We’re not free until we are all free.”
Video #2: Antong Lucky teamed up with a local nonprofit, Cafe Momentum. Their mission is to transform young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. Together they baked a red velvet cake and Antong Lucky explained the significance of red velvet cake as an important tradition of Juneteenth. In this one-minute and 26-second video, Antong says “This tradition arose out of slavery. The red in the red velvet cake symbolizes the bloodshed of those of our ancestors who didn’t make it. And it symbolizes the resilience of those that did make it. So on Juneteenth, the red velvet cake is a reminder to those of us who made it that we have a responsibility to continue fighting injustice with weapons that we know can win which is love and redemption.”
Video #3: Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr. discussed the historical significance of Juneteenth and highlighted that it’s been called America’s second Independence Day. In the 57-second video, Dr. Soaries says “Juneteenth will really function as a catalyst that will make an impact in our society."
Heal America's new TikTok account gained 52,000 new followers as a result of the Juneteenth storytelling campaign. The Heal America Juneteenth storytelling campaign earned 9 million impressions nationally and the six videos amassed 4.6 million views, 1,337 comments, 5,549 shares, 163,307 likes, and 3,476 saves. The Juneteenth storytelling campaign sparked amazing audience engagement for Heal America’s social channels resulting in 6,964 comments, 12,678 shares, 228,866 reactions, 172,530 clicks, and 6.8 million video views across all social media platforms within a few short weeks from June 1 - 20, 2022.
The top 3 videos on TikTok from the Heal America Juneteenth storytelling campaign featured Ms. Opal Lee, Antong Lucky and Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr.
Video #1: Ms. Opal Lee and Antong Lucky's discussion of how Juneteenth is not just an African American holiday on TikTok received 1.6 million views, 79.9K likes, 504 passionate comments, 2,132 saves, and 2,457 shares. The sharing and commenting were meaningful results that showed the two-way dialogue that was sparked by this video.
Video #2: Antong Lucky and Cafe Momentum's red velvet cake video amassed on TikTok 1.2 million views, 10.6K likes, 71 comments, 126 saves, and 141 shares. This short video balanced the playfulness of cooking with the seriousness of the important symbolism of red velvet cake on Juneteenth.
Video #3:Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr. historical significance of Juneteenth video on TikTok received 771,400 views, 44.5K likes, 484 passionate comments, 796 saves, and 1,915 shares. This educational storytelling competed with the dancing videos on TikTok.