Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of those enslaved in the United States. We celebrate it on June 19 because June 19, 1865 was the day the slaves were freed after the Civil War. But wait… didn’t the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 end slavery? Yes, it legally did end slavery. However, around 250,000 slaves in Texas were not made aware of their new freedom until June 19, 1865. And they immediately began to celebrate. Freedmen had many ways of celebrating and in 1980 Texas made it an official holiday. Now, it represents freedom for black Americans everywhere because July 4, 1776 was not a day of true independence for them.
So take some time this year to celebrate independence. Here are some things that you can do on June 19th of this year.
1. Watch movies & shows
Some good options include 12 Years a Slave, Just Mercy, 13th (Netflix), Malcolm X, and When They See Us. Streaming services are starting to have sections or categories for creative work that celebrates black Americans. The ABC sitcom Black-ish (streaming on Hulu) has a Juneteenth episode that is a must watch. The PBS docuseries Juneteenth Jamboree explains the cultural significance of the holiday. Watch a television series that showcases Black joy, like Family Matters, Family Reunion, A Different World or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. These shows display the African-American experience in a positive light.
2. Support black owned businesses
Find local black businesses in your area to support. A lot of these businesses are struggling and there are simple ways to support them. One way is to give them a follow on social media. Likes, comments, shares and retweets are free ways to help these companies.
3. Host a backyard party
This could be an opportunity to invite some people over and have a cookout. I feel like people are always looking for excuses to whip out the grill. This is a great way to have a small gathering if you are not a fan of large gatherings.
4. Cook some traditional foods
People love eating good food. African-Americans have a long history of traditional foods. Most foods made on this holiday are red, to represent those enslaved. Main courses can be red meat like beef and pork, and the rest can be the beloved soul food. Soul food meals include corn bread, collard greens, yams, macaroni and cheese and so much more.
5. Listen to black artists
Spotify and Apple Music have playlists that highlight black artists. You may discover some new music that you like. Or you can make your own playlist of all your favorite songs. Make it fun and share your playlists and songs to your family and friends.
6. Spread information on social media
The truth is that a lot of people don’t know about Juneteenth and its importance. People really believe the 4th of July brought true independence for all Americans. So take the information you have learned and spread it. This information should flood Facebook feeds, Instagram stories, Tik Tok For You pages and many more online platforms. We just have to make sure that the information being put out is true and factual.
Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC or the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. A museum in your area may be having an exhibit for Juneteenth.
8. Find an event
If you live in a larger city they are probably having some kind of parade or street fair. These events usually have great music, people and food. Eventbrite is a great resource to use. Just go to their website, choose your city, and search “Juneteenth.” You may be surprised by what you find.
Get your family together and decide the best way for you to celebrate. Juneteenth 2021 will be one for the books!