5 Ways To Celebrate & Honor Juneteenth


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Juneteenth marks the end of the United States’ historic practice of slavery. In 1863 during the American Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring more than three million enslaved people living in the Confederate states freedom. However, in the South, the Emancipation Proclamation was not immediately enforced, so it wasn’t until two years later, on June 19th, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed the remaining enslaved communities of the proclamation that slavery was truly abolished. Ever since, June 19th has been a day marked to celebrate freedom and uplift the Black-American community, typically involving festivals with music, food and dancing, family gatherings, prayer, speeches, and educational events.

While many families and communities always have and will continue to celebrate the holiday, the day was not a widely recognized public holiday until last year. However, amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, which saw a cultural shift in consciousness, the world came together and, for the first time, celebrated Juneteenth globally. For the first time in the US, it was granted by many co-corporations as a public holiday, and Google (finally) added it to its official calendar.

This year, it’s officially been marked a national holiday, which is the first new federal holiday in nearly four decades. And while there are fewer protests in the streets, it’s also a reminder to continue to do anti-racism work by educating yourself on the long history of racial injustices and supporting the Black community in any way you can. Here are five ways you can celebrate and honor Juneteenth.

1. Learn About Juneteenth

While most of you may have heard of Juneteenth, it’s important to understand the cultural and historic significance of the day. Taking the time to educate yourself and re-learn the history you may have been taught is SO important. When you do, make sure your information is coming from reputable sources. For reading ideas, check out the Juneteenth reading list, which has tons of amazing books to read, like Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, $15, and Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, $13.

2. Donate and Sign Petitions

Another way to celebrate and show your solidarity with the Black community is by donating in any way you can. There are several nonprofits dedicated to racial equality, like the Black Lives Matter Organization and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Another great charity to donate to is The Audre Lorde Project, which supports Black LGBTQIA+ youth through community and social justice initiatives (just a reminder, June is also Pride month). If you can’t donate, signing petitions is another way to make an impact, a great example is this petition to get justice for Daunte Wright.

3. Attend A Juneteenth Event

This year, there are some amazing Juneteenth events, from the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival to the SummerStage Screening: Summer of Soul in NYC. Get researching to try and find an event in your area. Even if you don’t have a Juneteenth event in your neighborhood, there are tons of virtual events, which you can attend from the comfort of your home. Better yet, invite some friends over, cook some Juneteenth staples, and watch it together. Need some inspo? The Amistad Center for Art & CultureStep Afrika! and James Madison’s Montpelier Museum are all holding virtual Juneteenth events.

4. Shop From Black-Owned Brands

One small (and continual) way you can uplift and support the Black community is by shopping from Black-owned brands. On the hunt for some new beauty products? Shop from these awesome Black-owned wellness brands or take a look at these amazing Black-owned beauty brands. You can also check out the digital magazine Black-Owned Brands, which is dedicated to showcasing fashion, beauty, and more from Black-owned brands all over the world.

Juneteenth is another great excuse to eat or order from Black-Owned restaurants and indulge in Juneteenth classic dishes. If you’re not familiar with Juneteenth dishes, there are tons of suggestions and recipes on Oprah Daily, which also explains the cultural significance behind each dish. For instance, many of the dishes are red, which holds philosophical and spiritual value to the African communities who were enslaved. It’s also believed to symbolize bloodshed, sacrifice, power, and transition.

5. Celebrate Black Art and Creatives

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June is not only Juneteenth (and Pride month); it’s also Black Music Month, so why not take the opportunity to celebrate Black creatives and appreciate Black art. If you’re looking to expand your song choice, Spotify has tons of playlists like Black Lives Matter, Black Girl Magic, and The Black Power Mixtape. Ultimately, music has been used as a method of storytelling for thousands of years, and listening to another perspective through music can be truly powerful.

While we’re on the topic of Black art, Juneteenth is the perfect time to read books by iconic Black authors and poets like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Ralph Ellison. Failing that, we recently read the book More Than Enough Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth, and we couldn’t recommend it enough.

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Not a book person? There are many great films, documentaries, and TV series created by Black directors that deserve your love and attention. Shows like Black-Ish, Black AF, and Atlanta even have Juneteenth episodes that highlight the cultural significance of the day.

It’s also a great time to ensure your social media diet is diverse and inclusive. Here are 11 inspirational Black women you can check out right now.

Finally, you can make Juneteenth even more special by ensuring that the history and lessons learned on the day are carried forward and implemented in your life as much as possible. How are you celebrating Juneteenth? Let us know in the comments below!