Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day is a day to honor and celebrate liberation. 156 years ago on June 19, 1865, roughly five months after the 13th Amendment abolished the institution of slavery. More than 200,000 Black men, women, and children were freed in Texas 155 years ago. Today, the holiday is about celebrating Black culture, history and life, bringing people together to honor all those who came before us and fought for the rights and privileges we hold today. This year’s celebration is particularly momentous considering all of the events that have taken place this past year owing to the Black Lives Matter movement. Not forgetting the tragedies that have befallen our communities, though unfortunate, has given rise to a consciousness that will now forever be a part of our people.
History aside, Juneteeth also gives us the opportunity to support black-owned businesses and educate family and friends on the significance of this day. Here are some of the ways you can celebrate Juneteenth this year.
READ AND LEARN ABOUT THE HOLIDAY AS A FAMILY Image via iStock
Celebrating this holiday is only meaningful if you actually understand what’s being celebrated. Start off by checking out some of the many books that have been written about this holiday and discuss them as a family. We need to educate our children about the past. If you can’t get your hands on these before June 19, there’s a good chance you can listen to podcasts on certain apps.
FIND AN EVENT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD Image via iStock
Juneteenth is a day filled with parades and street fairs. At these events, you can expect music, performances and lots of food. While the pandemic has shifted the way we celebrate, many events have been limited to the number of people allowed in one area. States such as Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York have information on how to join the festivities while abiding by safety guidelines.
RESEARCH SOME TRADITIONAL FOOD RECIPES Image via iStock
Nothing says celebration like food. You can go for regular barbecue favorites or try out some traditional dishes associated with the holiday (and boy do we have some yummy
cookbooks to get you started). Main courses like beef or lamb are typically associated with the day. Additionally, most meals are traditionally made to either appear red or are naturally so, to represent the resilience of the enslaved— which is why strawberry soda is a staple at every party. HOST YOUR OWN BACKYARD PARTY Image via iStock
No events in your area? Made too much food? No problem, host a small gathering at home. The holiday has always been for the community and bringing people together. So fire up the grill and host your own barbecue. Of course, limit the number of people and practice social distancing. Invite your family and friends over and enjoy a day of fun games, delicious food and great music.
WATCH BLACK TV SHOWS AND MOVIES Image via iStock
Maybe you dont feel like having people and just lazing around. There are many TV shows and movies that shed light on this holiday such as
and Black-ish (who have Juneteenth-centered episodes), films like Atlanta (a fictional look at the holiday’s pageants) or PBS’s docuseries Miss Juneteenth about the cultural significance of the day. Aside from learning more about Juneteenth, simply watching classic all-black-casted shows like Juneteenth Jamboree All American , Empire or Lovecraft Country ) that showcase Black joy and culture in a positive light is a way to share in the festivities of the day. LISTEN TO BLACK ARTISTS Image via iStock
Everyone listens to music, whether it’s Jazz, Pop, Indie, etc. Music generally brings good vibes to every setting, and June has also been dubbed Black Music Month. So whichever genre you enjoy, put together a playlist of your favorite black artists to show your support.
MAKE JUNETEENTH DECORATIONS Image via Pinterest
Honor and learn more about this holiday through decor! Do research with your children about where enslaved Blacks came from and honor those places by making a banner of those countries’ flags at home with construction paper or even make your very own Juneteenth flag.
There are many other fun ways to celebrate Juneteenth but whichever activity you decide to partake in, we do encourage a moment of silent to be kept as we remember the sacrifices that have been made to ensure our freedom.
Image via stock.adobe.com