Juneteenth is more than 155 years old, making it the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the US. It is celebrated on June 19 because, back in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army brought news to Texas that all slaves were free and that the Civil War had finally come to an end. The surprising point is that he released this news years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
It was not until June 2021 that Juneteenth became an official US federal holiday when President Joe Biden signed the legislation that made it so.
How to Celebrate Juneteenth this Year
Juneteenth is an important holiday that should not go by unacknowledged. If you want to partake in the festivities this year, here are some ways for you to celebrate it:
- Learn more about its history: Learning about the history of Juneteenth is one of the best ways to embrace this annual holiday. As the old adage says, knowledge is power, so the more you know and understand about this day, the better it is for you and your community.
- Watch a documentary about slavery: As you dedicate some time to learning more about Juneteenth’s history, it would also be helpful to watch a documentary about slavery. Slavery continued in many ways, even after chattel slavery ended, and many documentaries, such as 13th on Netflix, cover these issues.
- Support Black-owned businesses: Supporting Black businesses, whether it be on a national or local level, is a great way to support the advancement of Black people in our economy. Through your research, you are also likely to come across some amazing brands you may not have otherwise been exposed to.
- Donate to a nonprofit: There are many nonprofits that work toward the advancement of racial equality in the US, which you could donate to, such as Black Lives Matter and Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Look for events in your neighborhood: Connect with and support your local community by finding a Juneteenth event in your neighborhood, such as a street fair or parade.
- Host a Juneteenth party: If you cannot find a Juneteenth event in your area, consider hosting your own to bring the people of your community together.
- Read stories written by Black authors: If you enjoy reading, consider adding some books written by Black authors to your shelf.
- Visit an exhibit dedicated to Black culture: There are many museums and art exhibits out there, so look into the ones that could immerse you in Black culture and art.
- Talk to your children about race: If you have children, Juneteenth is the perfect opportunity to have a discussion about race and to help them understand the importance of this day to the Black community.
Always keep in mind that this day’s deep cultural significance can also sometimes be a painful memorial for some. Do not co-opt Black spaces without an explicit invitation and remember not to make this day about you. Instead, try to listen to and learn from others.