Juneteenth Spotlight: Buwa Ijirigho
Juneteenth is more than Black history — it’s American history. Which is why MGO wants to acknowledge and honor it: the anniversary of the day in 1865 when the last group of enslaved African Americans were freed by Union troops. To celebrate, we invited some of our team members to share their personal and family histories, experiences, and values rooted in their Black American identities.
Buwa Ijirigho, Manager, Los Angeles office
What does Juneteenth mean to you? Is there anything you do to commemorate the day? If so, what?
It’s an important day that I honestly didn’t know enough about until late in my high school education. To imagine that the U.S. government freed the enslaved in 1863 and some didn’t find out until two and a half years later—that’s mindboggling! Now that I’m older, my family and friends and I get together, have a barbecue, hang out, and watch the NBA finals.
What is a unique tradition you grew up with, and how do you feel it ties into your family history?
I grew up in a Nigerian American family who recently immigrated into a nearly all black and Latino neighborhood in West Phoenix, so we had several unique traditions. The biggest, though, is what we do over the holidays. Over Christmas, we get together at my parents’ house to play games, sing songs, do an Angel exchange, and, of course, eat! My parents immigrated right before I was born, leaving all their siblings and family back in Nigeria. So, we really value the time we get once a year to gather and enjoy each other’s company, as though we had the entire family there.
Are there any special recipes in your family that have been passed down through the generations? Please share if they are not a secret!
If you know me, you know about my Jollof!
How can organizations and companies better support you beyond honoring the day of Juneteenth?
The Black American experience is a unique one. Although we’ve made significant strides, there’s still a lot to do. Even the recognition of Juneteenth comes with a burden, as it was almost a consolation prize to avoid passing any meaningful legislation in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders. I think what organizations can truly do is understand our experience is unique. While they may not understand the intricacies of the uniqueness, by acknowledging it and finding ways to create spaces leading to equity is possible—and would make a difference.