Black illustrator creates Juneteenth Google tribute: ‘It’s time to celebrate us’

Rachelle Baker says that she wants Juneteenth to celebrate not just our past but our collective future

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If you noticed the colorful work of the Juneteenth Google Doodle, you may have wanted to know more about the artist.

Detroit-based Rachelle Baker, is a self-described multi-disciplinary artist who has provided art for books including “Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream” by Blair Imani from Ten Speed Press, “Shirley Chisholm is a Verb” by Veronica Chambers from Dial Books/Penguin Random House, Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop by Clover Hope from Abrams Books, and “Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds.

In a blog post, Google explained why they chose to honor the holiday, which was just signed into law as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden this week.

Rachelle Baker’s Google Doodle for Juneteenth

“Today’s Doodle artwork celebrates joy within the Black community, as well as the perseverance foundational to this journey toward liberation. With each letter, the Doodle transitions from historical Juneteenth parades to modern-day traditions such as education through storytelling, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, and commemorative festivals and parades.

These scenes of celebration and community are brightened by bluebonnets—the state flower of Texas—and forget-me-nots that are layered upon backgrounds of decorative ironwork commonly found on buildings throughout the southern states. This ironwork highlights the often forgotten contributions made by enslaved Black Americans and symbolizes their strength and resilience.”

Baker says she wanted to honor not just Juneteenth’s past importance to African Americans, but its future.

“For my Google Doodle, I wanted to illustrate a few of the ways that people celebrate and have historically celebrated Juneteenth. I want people to think about traditions, old and new, creating their own traditions, and how they celebrate one another,” Baker told theGrio’s Biba Adams.

“For me, Juneteenth is not only reflecting and learning about the past, appreciating the sacrifices and struggles of those before me, but also thinking about the future and how I and others around me can effect change for those that come after us. It’s also a time to celebrate ‘US’ and our accomplishments, triumphs, and everything that comes next.

Rachelle Baker (via official website)

Baker’s colorful Google Doodle shows African-Americans from historical times until now doing the things that encompass many facets of our everyday lives – from celebrations to the simple interactions of hair braiding or spending time with a young family member. In an interview conducted by Google, Baker says those moments factored into her creative process.

“I looked at tons of photos and art illustrating some of the first-ever Juneteenth celebration, as well as celebrations, parades, and festivities from recent years. I also read about specific symbols, foods, colors, and activities that were and continue to be important in celebrating and commemorating this holiday.”

Baker says her artwork was also informed by family memories and artifacts.

“I was inspired by family photo albums (and my family getting together for special occasions to celebrate each other), intaglio prints, and illuminated letters.”

The Google Doodle can be seen on Juneteenth, June 19, to commemorate the holiday.

You can find Baker on Instagram and purchase prints of her work HERE.

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