Last year, President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth -- June 19 -- into a national holiday. As is often the case with any new holiday -- especially one fraught with as much significance as the celebration of the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans -- some brands have made questionable choices in their quest to mark the date.
At the forefront is Walmart, which rolled out a Juneteenth ice cream flavor and partyware. This week, Walmart shoppers spotted Juneteenth party supplies, including drink cozies that read, “It’s the freedom for me.” In addition, Walmart introduced a Juneteenth ice cream flavor featuring red velvet and cream cheese.
That led to a backlash on Twitter, with tweets like this: "What I need Walmart to do is send me all this ice cream just so I could taste and make sure it is wrong."
On Monday, Walmart said it planned to pull all Juneteenth products. "Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence," the company said in a statement. "However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate."
The only other major brand of note to celebrate Juneteenth so far this year in a major way is JCPenney, which honored Dr. Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” with a virtual event on May 17 called “Walking for Freedom: A Juneteenth Discussion with Dr. Opal Lee.” A replay can be viewed here. The retailer also launched a Juneteenth apparel collection themed “Freedom. Progress. Respect.”