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For 155 years, Black Americans across the country have memorialized Juneteenth as a day of remembrance and an opportunity to honor and celebrate Black culture. Juneteenth or June 19th, marks the day enslaved people in Texas were made aware that they were no longer enslaved. The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Confederacy on January 1, 1863, but many weren’t freed. In fact, approximately 250,000 enslaved people were forced to flee to Texas with their slaveholders. For over two years, Texas was the slaveholders’ last refuge. On June 19, 1865, General Granger entered Texas with Union forces to issue a direct order notifying Texans that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished.

In 2020, Juneteenth became more widely acknowledged, as assaults against Black Americans escalated across the country and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and others, sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic violence, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. The startling acts of violence are a harsh reality of our country’s wounds and are incredibly triggering for Black Americans.


Miko Underwood

The Black Lives Matter Movement increased awareness about systemic oppression and discrimination. The civil outcry amplified a demand for diversity, inclusion, and equity across all industries.

In fashion, we experienced radical shifts in several corporate companies, from fashion houses to major retail chains.

Black designers were given a space to be heard, seen, and supported. Historically, the Black American consumer spends $2.7 trillion annually, but is drastically underrepresented on the supplier side. Organizations like RAISEfashion, HFR’s Icon 360, Bethann Hardison’s Designers Hub and Aurora James’ 15 Percent Pledge sought to advance equity of Black talent & Black-owned brands.

The contributions of Black designers were being spotlighted and amplified.

In February 2021, major retail chain Nordstrom launched Black Founders x Center Stage Pop-Up at Nordstrom NYC. The two-month long pop-up shop featured eight Black-founded and -owned companies from across the country, spanning beauty, men’s and women’s apparel, accessories and footwear. Customers were invited to explore, shop, and get to know the featured brands’ stories through interviews with the founders behind them.


Nordstrom New York Flagship “Black Founders Center Stage,” February 2020

As a featured designer, the opportunity allowed my brand, Oak & Acorn~Only for the Rebelles, to tell a different story of denim. Oak & Acorn~Only for the Rebelles is the first sustainable denim brand in Harlem. Grounded in sustainability, social impact and education, Oak & Acorn~Only for the Rebelles pays homage to the legacy of the enslaved African & Black Indigenous contributions to American Denim.

Oak & Acorn made history in Nordstrom as the first Black Designer Brand on the Designer 4th Floor in their New York City Flagship.

You cannot cure a wound

unless you open it up and drain the poison out,

You cannot know that you can achieve

unless you know it’s been done …”

– Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian

On Tuesday,  June 15, 2021, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed a bill establishing June 19th, as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This action has been met with mixed response from the Black community.

As a nation, America has a volatile history involving race; however, the realities of systemic oppression are often either overlooked or considered untrue. Recently, the board of education in the state of Georgia approved a resolution that declares the U.S. and Georgia are not racist. The board voted that students should not be taught that racism and slavery are anything but deviations from the country’s “authentic founding principles.” Some say that critical race theory promotes a distorted view of American history and vilifies white Americans.

In stark contrast, bills like H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, remain on the congress floor. Human Rights Watch said in its testimony to Congress in February, “Passing H.R. 40 is essential because the full impact of creating laws and policies that forced hundreds of thousands of Africans to be enslaved in the United States, a gross human rights violation, has never been fully examined, accounted for, or assessed at the national level.”

From early on, many Black Americans are taught of the genocide our ancestors faced in this country. It’s hard to comprehend that our people were treated as property, brutalized, commoditized, and sold from our families. I imagine it’s also hard for the white community to hear that their ancestors participated in this brutality and continue to profit from the systems that were born of it.

“Education and acknowledgement breeds empathy and gives space for our nation to heal.”

– Miko Underwood, Designer Oak & Acorn ~ Only for the Rebelles 

Uoma Beauty's founder, Sharon Chuter

The denim industry is a very niche category of business with a tight community of makers and gatekeepers. Although the jeanswear trends have traditionally risen out of the Black communities, Black designers aren’t represented as the business owners or executives in the Denim industry. Black women in particular have played a very important role in the birth of textile production prior to the industrial revolution. The “slave-based textile industry” was born via the artisanship of the enslaved Black woman.

Jeanmaking is a beautiful craft with rich roots in American history that deserves to be shared. I’d like to see that change. After garnering nearly 20 years of experience in jean making, I thought it imperative to create a sustainable denim brand that pays homage to my ancestry. I believe that it’s our cultural responsibility to reach back, educate, and inspire the next generation of makers and create economic equanimity and opportunity.

Recognition of Juneteenth as a U. S. holiday offers an opportunity for our nation as a whole to hear the historical narratives of Black Americans before, after and beyond enslavement. This historic bill represents a step toward accountability, awareness and healing, but much more must be done.

Miko Underwood is an artist, wellness practitioner, design director and founder of Oak & Acorn – Only for the Rebelles, the first sustainable denim brand in Harlem, NY.



#Juneteenth: A Year in Review 

#Juneteenth: A Year in Review

#Juneteenth: A Year in Review 

#Juneteenth: A Year in Review

#Juneteenth: A Year in Review


Haute People was launched in September 2011 as a Fashion Blog and has grown into a Lifestyle Blog. The Term “Haute” can be defined as “Fashionably Elegant” or of High Quality. This blog looks at topics from Beauty, Fashion, Entertainment, Hair Trends, Pop Culture as well as exciting new features every month. A favorite among our readers is “Behind The Seams” where influential people from the Creative Industries are featured. . Haute People are Smart, Bold, Creative and Individualistic. If you have an innate passion for Lifestyle, Fashion and all things current, you are HAUTE.

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