Juneteenth (short for "June Nineteenth") commemorates the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to supersede state control and ensure the release of all enslaved people. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and half years prior, it wasn't until federal forces descended on the lone star state slavery was effectively ended, with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, in December of the same year. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, several others followed suit over the years, and on June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday. Read on for five ways to spend the day in celebration, education, or relaxation.
Cookouts & Gatherings
The earliest celebration of Juneteenth dates back to 1866 when Black folks in Texas organized an annual event called "Jubilee Day" on June 19th. The commemoration celebrated Black culture while centering music, barbeque, prayer, and community gathering. As Black people migrated to other states from Texas, the tradition spread. Today, many families, communities, and organizations hold cookouts celebrating freedom and the spirit of Juneteenth. Fire up the grill and invite friends over to enjoy the day together. Pair a bucket hat with your look for instant sun protection without sacrificing style, and be sure to feature red foods like red velvet cake, crayfish, and watermelon - the color symbolizes the struggle and bloodshed of African Americans in the pursuit of freedom.
Museums & Historical Societies
Although it's been over 150 years since the first celebration of Juneteenth, the holiday enters only its second year under national observance. Many museums and historical societies serve as resources on past celebrations on this day of freedom. They often offer educational programming for guests of all ages - The Brooklyn Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Doleman Black Heritage Museum are just a few. One to add to your list in coming years is the newly announced 50,000-square-foot Juneteenth museum coming to Fort Worth, Texas. Rock a black joy tee on your outing to show your dedication to rising above systemic oppression.
Read up on history
If you're the more stay-at-home lounging in a kaftan type, reading up on history without the crowds can be just as effective at commemorating the day. There are some fantastic facts surrounding Juneteenth, including: Juneteenth honors the end of slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. And Juneteenth is the first federal holiday to be established since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was formally declared a holiday.
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts are an engaging and easy way to teach children about Juneteenth. Allow your tiny artist to create something to commemorate the day, whether a flag pencil, sun catcher, or a confetti popper. Once your crafts are complete, parade around the neighborhood with your artwork on display and match your mini for an added dose of togetherness.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
In a society where institutionalized racism and the wealth gap directly impact one's access and agency, money is not just a vehicle with which we buy goods. Money is a push and support for dreams moving forward. Buying black puts money directly where it matters, in the community black-owned businesses serve. We've compiled a list of black woman-owned companies that should be next on your list.