Instagram has activated today a number of programming initiatives, platform-wide tools, and educational resources in honor of Juneteenth — a holiday dating back to June 19, 1865 that celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States.
First up is a special edition of Verzuz — a celebratory Instagram Live music battle series founded by renowned producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. The show will take place this evening at 8 pm ET, where Alicia Keys will face off against John Legend to determine who has the better catalog, with viewers weighing in to help determine the winner. Verzuz will be followed by an afterparty set from DJ D-Nice, who will also be celebrating his 50th birthday.
Additionally, Instagram is rolling out a so-called ‘solidarity tool kit’ that will include: Stickers created by Black artists (pictured above from @Marco.Cheats, @AndreaPippins, and @MinaElise) that will be available all month, and special AR effects lenses designed by Black AR creators. Instagram is also retooling its donations feature to highlight organizations fighting for racial justice, including the ACLU, The Bail Project, Equal Justice Initiative, The Innocence Project, and The Marshall Project.
Furthermore, a new ‘well-being’ tab on the Explore page will direct users to expert organizations and publishers, including the NAACP, Weird Enough HQ (which will fete Black artists), the Equal Justice Initiative (which will furnish resources about how Black people can support their mental health right now), and the Child Mind Institute and The Conscious Kid — both of which will share tips about how to talk to kids about racism.
Instagram also plans to amplify its previously-announced commitment to #ShareBlackStories by highlighting artists, activists, and businesses on its owned-and-operated accounts, including its flagship Instagram account, as well as Creators, Design, and Shop.
On the ‘Instagram’ page, Bronx-based culinary collective @GhettoGastro will host an interactive cookout on Instagram Live, and the artist collective @Love.Watts will premiere an animated short film about Juneteenth. On ‘Creators’, Instagram will share a must-follow list of 15 Black creators, and on ‘Design’ it will host a Black protest art show courtesy of Rujeko Hockley, an assistant curator at the Whitney. Finally, on ‘Shop’, Instagram has been highlighting Black-owned businesses in recent weeks, including non-binary shaving brand Oui The People and Atlanta-based greeting cards company Culture Greetings.