Six ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year

Juneteenth now an official federal holiday in the US, but what exactly does the holiday signify and how should we be celebrating it in our communities? Juneteenth specifically celebrates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas as a response to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. 

For Black Americans who did not have freedom on July 4, 1776, Juneteenth is a celebration of true freedom and an acknowledgement of the discrimination and oppression Black Americans continued to face despite the end of slavery. Whether Juneteenth has been a lifelong holiday in your home or you’re new to celebrating it, here are six ways to celebrate and honor Juneteenth this year. 

Learn the full history of Juneteenth

Although June 19, 1869 marked the end of slavery in Texas, the reality was far more complex. Learning the full history of slavery in America and how it still impacts society today will help you better understand the holiday and contribute towards your own antiracist education. Sharing this information with children and loved ones is a great way to evaluate the true meaning of freedom for all before we celebrate the Fourth of July. Some good resources to start with are the book Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison and this article from The New York Times

Celebrate with loved ones

There’s no wrong way to celebrate, but common celebrations include hosting barbecues, attending a parade if there’s one in your area, or just enjoying dinner with your family. Many people serve corn bread, collard greens, and cabbage as they represent prosperity in Black history. 

Support Black-owned businesses

We still have a long way to go to create a truly equitable society, but supporting Black-owned businesses in our own communities is a great way to contribute to that goal. Seek out Black-owned shops, restaurants, and salons to visit and share them with your friends. 

Spread the word

Educating yourself is a great first step, but sharing what you learn with others is even better. Support racial justice education in schools and ask your company why they offer the Fourth of July as a paid holiday, but not Juneteenth. This can be as simple as initiating a discussion of the importance of Juneteenth at the dinner table. 

Donate to racial justice-focused organizations

Donate to organizations that support racial justice in your own community or opt for larger national organizations like The American Civil Liberties Union, the Audre Lorde Project, the Bail Project, and the Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund. 

Attend Juneteenth events

Check and see if there are any Juneteenth events happening in your community or nearby cities. Juneteenth New York is hosting a three-day, online and in-person Juneteenth summit and The Smithsonian Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C., is holding presentations on the history and significance of Juneteenth. Most major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Austin hold parades to commemorate the holiday. 

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