Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free from the institution of slavery. But, woefully, this was almost two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. As much as Juneteenth represents freedom, it also represents how emancipation was tragically delayed for enslaved people in the deepest reaches of the Confederacy.¹
In 1866, the first Juneteenth was celebrated amidst singing, cookouts, and the reading of spirituals; it commemorated newly freed Black people taking pride in their progress. Today, Juneteenth is celebrated worldwide, with the global diaspora adopting the day as one to recognize emancipation at large.
After being largely ignored in schools, recognition of the day has also grown in recent years, especially amid a climate seeking justice for Black lives, recent study shows that most Americans now know about Juneteenth. A huge contributing factor being the Joe Biden-led administration recognizing the day as a public holiday.
Several groups in America are willing to fight against the systemic racism that continues to plague the country and have renewed efforts to do so by trying to ensure that legislation is introduced to include lessons that would help students understand the significance of a holiday like Juneteenth. As the American public continues to grapple with how to talk about slavery and its enduring consequences, the national recognition of Juneteenth is at least a start to acknowledging the harmful way America was built and the foundational contributions of the enslaved.¹
Why Is It Called Juneteenth?
The word “Juneteenth” is a combination of “June” and the word “nineteenth,” the date that Juneteenth falls on. The holiday is also referred to as Juneteenth Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Freedom Day.
Be cautious of Cultural Appropriation
If you are not Black but still want to celebrate and appreciate Juneteenth with your family, you should be aware of the concept of “cultural appropriation”, the practice of adopting race-specific cultural practices as your own without proper attribution or credit and in ways that further exacerbate racial oppression.
You can use your judgment in these situations, but also talking to a Black friend or co-worker about your intentions and seeking their advice on what might be considered culturally appropriate, will help you stay on the right track.
5 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth With Your Family
- Participate in a Juneteenth Activity: Be it rodeos, parades, street fairs, etc; Juneteenth is a day bustling with activities and events. Find one you and your family can actively participate in and still have fun. You could get in touch with your local community council to find out a list of events and activities set out for the day. If there aren’t any, try organizing one to mark the day, could be small-scaled like a yard sale or raising donations for shelters, or even cleaning them.
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- Read and Learn about Juneteenth as a Family: Storytime has always been a great way to bond as a family. Learning more about the holiday yourself while educating your kids is a bonus. If you are worried about being too grim or lacking the right imaginative expressions to convey your thoughts, there is lots of fun literature for kids on Juneteenth and why it is so symbolic.
Some picture books for kids include: Juneteenth Jamboree By Carole Boston Weatherford and Juneteenth for Mazie By Floyd Cooper.²
Chapter books for teens include: The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure By Steven Otfinoski, Tiny’s Emancipation By Linda Baten Johnson, and Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom By Charles Taylor.²
- Have a Juneteenth Family Cookout: Well, an outdoor feast basking in sunlight and nature certainly lets the holiday mood sink in properly as well as creates an atmosphere of warmth, laughter, and gratitude. Incorporate red foods, which have the symbolic value of the resilience and ingenuity of enslaved people and are customary for the celebration, into your Juneteenth menu. Strawberries, watermelon, red-colored juice, cherry pie, red velvet cake, sausages, hot dogs, and barbecue are just some of the red-hued foods you can include in your feast. And don’t forget the soul food: fried chicken, collard greens, mac & cheese. Yummy right? Let your kids help you make the menu and decorate the table, as well as discuss the significance and history behind the meal you’re sharing.
- Make Juneteenth Decorations: DIY decorations are fun especially with kids around. Roll out the art supplies and get a bit creative with arts and crafts. Pull up Juneteenth designs and colors from the internet for inspiration as well as creative direction, research into where enslaved Blacks came from, and honor those places by making a banner of African flags at home. Let every member of your family present create a unique Juneteenth design using the materials you have provided and when they are done, hang them up around the house. You could also have some hanging outdoors too. To boost your kids creativity and focus, the Herbal Goodness Kid’s focus formula liquid extract is such a go-to. This formula liquid is a natural liquid supplement specially made for children to provide cognitive system support and boost mental clarity. This supplement is made from natural and non-GMO ingredients, all of which boost focus in children and is a great addition to your child's daily regimen.
- Support Black-owned Businesses: Treat yourself and shop at Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth (and beyond). Shopping small and making your shopping purchases more inclusive shouldn’t be something that only happens once a year. But Juneteenth is a great day to splurge a little more than usual on Black-owned businesses. And many Black-owned businesses cater specifically to kids’ items or items for families. Draw up a list with your family and visit the businesses on your list; buying and tipping generously. You might want to take a Tupperware or two along, just to keep the celebratory spirit going. Fortify yourself and your family for this mission with Herbal Goodness Guayusa leaf extract liquid, for the much needed boosts to mental clarity, alertness, and focus while calming the nervous system and cardiovascular health.
These are fond memories your kids and family will remember for a long time and most likely carry on with their families. Juneteenth reminds us of all of the struggle of enslaved Black slaves for Freedom in America for years, the blood and tears that were shed to see it become a reality. As well as the grave injustice was done to a group of people for years. It is also a time to reflect on the much-needed progress we have made as a nation since then. It celebrates the bravery and perseverance of Black Americans throughout history and today.
But it’s also an important reminder that the struggle toward racial justice in America is far from over. The Center for American Progress estimates that African American households on average own only one-tenth the wealth of the average white American household, and this inequality have been widening since the Great Recession.³ A Harvard study found that Black people are three times as likely as whites to be killed in a police encounter.³ A resolve to right these wrongs can help us fight for justice and equality amongst ourselves. Together, we can.
- www.vox.com. Juneteenth, explained. Accessed on June 17, 2021
- www.Indyschild.com. 4 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth with Your Kids. Accessed on June 18, 2021.
- www.verywellfamily.com. How to Celebrate Juneteenth as a Family. Accessed on May 19, 2021.