Three Ways SI Swimsuit Models, Industry Professionals Are Honoring Juneteeth

The day can serve as an occasion to reflect on our nation’s history.

Dr. Anne Beal, Laretta Houston and Brittney Nicole. 

Since Juneteenth’s official recognition as a federal holiday in 2021, the day has taken on even greater significance for the entire country. However, its roots date to 1865, when it marked a pivotal moment in American history—the true emancipation of African Americans. Though the 13th Amendment was passed on January 31, 1865, its implementation across Confederate-controlled areas faced significant obstacles. It was not until months later, on June 19, 1865, that Union troops reached Galveston, Texas, liberating the enslaved population and establishing Juneteenth as a day of remembrance and celebration.

Juneteenth serves as an occasion to reflect on our nation’s history, acknowledging the oppression endured by African Americans and honoring the unwavering determination of those who fought for freedom. This day holds deep meaning for diverse groups, and individuals commemorate it in many ways. We asked our community how they are commemorating the day, and this is what they had to say.

Brittney Nicole, 2023 SI Swim Search Finalist

Brittney Nicole

Brittney Nicole

“Juneteenth holds a profound significance for me as a woman of color. On this day, I honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and the resilience of those who fought for freedom. From slavery to the civil rights movement, I recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the progress we have made while still being aware of the work that still remains. Today, I will be dedicating my capabilities to amplify the stories, achievements and experiences of Black athletes who have shaped the sports world. I aim to inspire unity, inclusivity, and understanding, fostering an environment where diverse voices are heard and celebrated. On Juneteenth, I commit to actively listening, learning and engaging with the rich heritage and culture that fuels the spirit of sport. Together, let us continue to champion equality, justice and the pursuit of greatness both on and off the field.”

Laretta Houston, SI Swimsuit Photographer

Laretta Houston.

Laretta Houston.

“Juneteenth is a significant date for African Americans who were enslaved. It serves as a reminder of our ancestors’ battles, oppression and suffering. It is also a day to honor the determination, strength and contributions of those who came before us. Their freedom set the tone for us to be able to make our own decisions and seek education, skills and other opportunities.

“I celebrate this day by telling stories and remembering our ancestors while cooking collard greens, yams, cornbread and fish. It’s my personal way of honoring and respecting our oppressed ancestors. Moving forward, I intend on continuing to work for equality in the industry of photography and raising awareness where needed.”

Dr. Anne Beal, Founder of AbsoluteJOI Skin Care

Dr. Anne Beal.

Dr. Anne Beal.

“Juneteenth is a celebratory holiday, and it’s a time for family gatherings. It also overlaps with Father’s Day, which gives us a chance to celebrate and recognize the men in our family. We are fortunate because my sister is into genealogy and uses Juneteenth gatherings to remind our younger generations about the small role our family played in American history.

“On my mother’s side, we have photos of my great-great grandfather and great-great grand uncles who were Union soldiers and had photos taken in their uniforms when they returned from the war. On my father’s side, his family came from Virginia and were named Henry. My sister learned they were enslaved on the Red Hill Plantation, which belonged to Patrick Henry and his descendants. And we actually visited that place as a family in June 2021–the year Juneteenth was recognized as a Federal Holiday.

“These stories are a reminder to our children that they are descended from strong, courageous people who fought and persevered, and they stand on the shoulders of ancestors who were an important part of American history.”

SI Staff