Surprise! U.S. Senate unanimously passes the move to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The U.S. House also passed the measure
It’s been a long time.
Juneteenth has been an official holiday in Texas for 40 years and in 46 other states around the nation. Private and public celebrations have in full steam a lot longer, beginning with the first dancing of singing as the end of slavery was marked through voice and by paper degree beginning with the pronouncement by a U.S. general on June 19, 1865.
Our advice from Good Genes Genealogy is:
- Begin your family’s traditions for Juneteenth celebrations.
- Engage your elders. It is a time to pause and hear their stories. Record them.
- Review and revise your activities this year in preparation for 2022.
- See the church flyer below for one of my favorite celebrations in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
- Following the flyer and history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a history of spiritual, economic, liberation and uplifting leadership in the circle of African African church “hood.”
- My sorority’s social media flyer wraps up this blog.
How to Celebrate Juneteenth as a Family
By Wendy Wisner Published on May 19, 2021Print
Over the past few years, many of us have become more aware of the racial injustices that have plagued Black Americans for centuries. The protests against police brutality in the summer of 2020 showed that more Americans than ever are looking for ways to support Black civil rights, to learn more about the history of racial injustice, and to find ways to participate in making the world a more equitable place.https://c19ccf989e30f1fcd0147dcd03eb6661.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Juneteenth—a national day of Black American independence—is a wonderful opportunity to engage in this movement. Whether Juneteenth is something your family has celebrated for years, or if this holiday is new to you, there are many ways to get the whole family involved.
After all, working toward a more equitable world starts by educating our children from the earliest ages, and giving them ample opportunities to integrate the fight for racial justice into their lives and traditions.
What Juneteenth Is and Why We Celebrate It
Even though many of us first heard of Juneteenth over the past few years, it’s a holiday that has been celebrated for over 150 years. Juneteenth marks the independence of Black Americans from the chains of slavery. It’s a holiday of remembrance, freedom, celebration, and a sober reminder of the work ahead to continue eradicating racism in our country.
What Is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth has its origins in American history and marks Black emancipation from slavery. On June 19, 1865, those who are believed to be the last slaves in America were freed in Galveston, Texas. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, the law was hard to enforce while the war was still raging.1
Southern slaveholders continued the practice of slavery in spite of Lincoln’s decree, and the Union army had no way to stop them until they had gained control over Southern territory. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when General Lee surrendered and the war was winding down, the last of the enslaved people were finally freed.
The day that the slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas was a day of profound joy and celebration. Over the years that followed, Black Americans began to celebrate this day as a day of freedom. Traditional ways of celebrating Juneteenth include barbecuing, other outdoor cookouts, prayers, fishing, and sports. Juneteenth was, and continues to be, about education and remembering the historical significance of the emancipation movement.1
Why Is It Called Juneteenth?
The world “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.”
When Is It Celebrated?
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th of each year.What Is An Anti-Racism Journey?
Is Juneteenth a National Holiday?
As awareness of Juneteenth has increased over the past few years, more states are recognizing the date as a holiday. Texas was the first state to do this, in 1980. As of June 2020, 47 states, plus the District of Columbia, had declared Juneteenth a local holiday. However, it is still not recognized nationwide.2
Despite the lack of a nationwide observance, in recent years private companies have started to recognize the importance of Juneteenth by giving their employees the day off to celebrate. In 2020, major companies like Twitter, Nike, Best Buy, and Target made Juneteenth a paid holiday.2Talking About Race: Being Mindful of Our Language
Celebrating Juneteenth As a Family
Traditional Juneteenth celebrations are usually outside, owing to the warm summer weather, and include cookouts, sports, parades, festivals, musical performances, and more. Juneteenth is also about supporting Black Americans, buying from Black businesses, learning Black history, and staying up-to-date on the struggles toward racial justice that continue to happen in this country.2
When it comes to celebrating Juneteenth as a family, there are so many creative and simple ways to participate. It’s never too early to have discussions about our children about race—in fact, the earlier we can broach these important subjects with our kids, the better. If we strive to raise our kids from an early age to understand racism and racial oppression, the better and more compassionate a world we will all have.
Be Wary of Cultural Appropriation
As you celebrate 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.
For example, there is nothing wrong with celebrating Juneteenth as a non-Black person at home or with others. Supporting Black organizations and educating yourself about Black history and culture is also great. But it might be less appropriate for a non-Black person to partake in Juneteenth customs like wearing African-themed clothing or performing traditional African dances.
You can use your judgment in instances like these, and you can also sensitively consult a Black friend or colleague if you are not sure whether what you are doing might be considered cultural appropriation.Acknowledging Your Own Racism
Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth
Participate in a Local Juneteenth Celebration
There have always been Juneteenth celebrations, often held in public parks, in backyards, and as part of local festivals. But as the holiday has gained popularity, there are more ways to celebrate locally than ever.
Major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit have already posted schedules for their Juneteenth parades and festivals. Check your own town or city’s website to see what is planned, or create your own event. Visit the Worldwide Celebration page at Juneteenth.com to learn about past events and see what’s coming up this year.
Have A Black History Readathon
Now, more than ever, there are so many books geared toward children that explain racism, Black history, Black culture, and more. So go to your local library, order online, or visit your local bookstore (a Black-owned bookstore, if possible) and get reading.
Some of our favorites include:
For ages 0-5:
- “The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez
- “Imani’s Moon” by Janay Brown-Wood
- “Lullaby (For a Black Mother)” by Langston Hughes
- “My First Harriet Tubman” by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
- “Superheroes Are Everywhere” by Kamala Harris
For ages 6-10:
- “Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” by Helaine Becker
- “Ella, Queen of Jazz” by Helen Hancocks
- “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” by Vashti Harrison
- “Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History” by Vashti Harrison
- “Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb” by Veronica Chambers
For older kids:
- “Calling My Name” by Liara Tamani
- “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone
- “Happily Ever Afters” by Elise Bryant
- “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
- “Punching the Air” by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Have an Outdoor Cookout or Barbeque
Food is a big part of Juneteenth, so don’t skimp on this! June 19th is usually perfect weather for barbequing, grilling, and enjoying the great outdoors while you partake in delicious foods.
Traditional Juneteenth foods include fruits like strawberries and watermelons, veggies like beets and yams, as well as black-eyed peas and cornbread. Brisket, pulled pork, and baked beans with meat have also traditionally topped the menu. Red foods and drinks, like hibiscus tea and hot sauce, are customary Juneteenth fare. The color red is thought to symbolize strength and resourcefulness.3
Donate to an Organization that Supports Black Lives
Organizations that promote Black causes, including organizing protests, supporting criminal justice for Black individuals, and promoting issues that uphold racial equality, are often grassroots groups that need monetary support. There is no better way to celebrate Juneteenth than to donate to Black causes.
Your family can discuss the causes that feel dear to your hearts, and you can get your children involved by helping you raise money to donate. How about a Juneteenth lemonade stand or yard sale? These are wonderful ways to raise awareness while simultaneously raising money for a good cause.
Here are some organizations you might consider donating to:
- Black Lives Matter
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- The Loveland Foundation
- The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- Reclaim the Block
Shop at Black-Owned Businesses
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 there are many Black-owned businesses that cater specifically to kids’ items or items for families.
Here are some of our favorite family-friendly Black-owned businesses.
Children’s Apparel and Accessories:
Beauty and Cosmetics:
Listen to the Emancipation Proclamation
Juneteenth wouldn’t be possible without the emancipation of slaves, which officially happened on January 1, 1863, when President Lincoln gave his famous “Emancipation Proclamation” speech. You can listen to this historic speech as a family on Audiobooks.com or on YouTube.
You can use this opportunity to put this moment into historical context for your children, emphasizing that this speech was just the beginning and that the struggle toward a more equitable world for Black Americans is ongoing to this day.
Absorb Some Black Art and Culture
These days, there are so many incredible Black screenwriters, writers, actors, musicians, and more for us to support and enjoy. Many are perfect for children, too.
Here are some of our favorite family-friendly music, movies, and TV shows to stream:
Movies for the whole family:
- “The Color of Friendship” (Disney+)
- “Hidden Figures” (Amazon Prime)
- “Ruby Bridges” (Disney+)
- “Selma” (Amazon Prime)
- “A Wrinkle in Time” (Amazon Prime)
TV for the youngest kids:
- “Bino and Fino” (Tubi)
- “Esme and Roy” (Hulu)
- “Motown Magic” (Netflix)
- “Nella the Princess Knight” (Nick Jr)
- “Super Sema” (YouTube)
TV for older kids and tweens:
- “Cousins for Life” (Amazon Prime)
- “Lab Rats” (Disney+)
- “Mama K’s Team 4” (Netflix)
- “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Black Panther’s Quest” (Amazon)
- “Raven’s Home” (Disney)
TV for the whole family:
- “Black-ish” (Hulu)
- “Black Lightning” (Netflix)
- “Grown-ish” (Hulu)
- “Kenan” (Hulu)
- “Marvel’s Runaways” (Hulu)
Help Make Juneteenth a National Holiday
Activists have been pushing for decades to make Juneteenth a national day of celebration. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic congresswoman from Texas, has repeatedly introduced resolutions that would designate Juneteenth as a full-blown federal holiday. Although the Congress has passed resolutions recognizing the importance of this day, these are just ceremonial and have not resulted in a federal holiday with paid leave for workers.
The most recent legislation was introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) but it has not yet come up for a vote in the Senate.
You can help by spreading the word, helping raise awareness, and by signing a petition asking for Juneteenth to receive federal recognition.5 Ways You Can Support the Black Lives Matter Movement
A Word from Verywell
Americans celebrate their freedom from England every July 4th, but for many Americans, this holiday is less relatable and doesn’t reflect the injustices that enslaved Black Americans suffered on American soil for years.
Juneteenth reminds us of all of that struggle, and the important 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 has been widening since the Great Recession.4
A Harvard study found that Black people are three times as likely as whites to be killed in a police encounter.5 We can only right these wrongs if we remain committed to the fight for justice and equality.
By remembering the last slaves’ emancipation on the original Juneteenth, we can take pride in how far we’ve come, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing journey forward.The Impact of Race and Racism on Eating Disorders.