June 19th, better known as Juneteenth is the celebration of freedom of enslaved Africans in the United States. Union Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War ended and the enslaved were now free. This occurred in 1865 –– two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation which federally ordered that all enslaved individuals were free.
In the following years, the anniversary of this event was celebrated and honored in Galveston with prayer and family gatherings. Now, Juneteenth is celebrated annually through backyard parties, community parades, memorials, meals, and more. As the descendants of the more than 250,000 enslaved individuals in Galveston began migrating to other parts of the country, the Juneteenth tradition spread.
In whatever way Juneteenth is celebrated, it has ultimately become a time of sharing stories of Black resilience, resistance, liberation, and joy.
Here are 5 ways you can celebrate Juneteenth as well!
Museums are the time capsules of society, allowing us to see, hear, and (sometimes) touch history. We learn about generations past in a way that other forms of learning might not communicate as well. Along with visiting the museum for an enriching history lesson, the museum is hosting their own celebrations:
Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration June 19TH | 12:00PM – 6:00PM
as well as a Juneteenth Freedom Fest June 18TH | 12:00PM – 6:00PM
2) Read books by Black authors and poets
Juneteenth is a celebration of liberation, joy, and of course, storytelling. Black authors and poets have inspired generations to come. Here is a list of books you can read provided by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/museum-store/juneteenth-reading-list
3) Support Black-Owned Businesses
An easy way to celebrate Juneteenth is by supporting Black creators and entrepreneurs.
The Center for American Progress reported that "while Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they own less than 2% of small businesses with employees. By contrast, white Americans make up 60% of the U.S. population but own 82% of small employer firms.
If financial capital were more evenly distributed and Black Americans enjoyed the same business ownership and success rates as their white counterparts, there would be approximately 860,000 additional Black-owned firms employing more than 10 million people.”
A clear solution? Supporting small and supporting Black-owned businesses.
4) Eat at Black-Owned Restaurants.
Many Juneteenth celebrations revolve around food and music. A great way to continue this tradition and celebration is by choosing to eat at Black-owned restaurants.
EatOkra is an app and website that connects “foodies to Black restaurants and culinary events while amplifying the dining experience for and by Black communities.”
It’s important to note that though the U.S. ended chattel slavery, slavery is still legal via a loophole in the 13th Amendment: "Abolition of Slavery (1865): Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
A great resource to learn more about this loophole in the 13th Amendment is the documentary 13th on Netflix.
Experts and activists see this loophole as directly linked to the current U.S. prison system, which incarcerates Black people at disproportionately higher rates and profits off their labor.
The documentary provides the origins of this loophole, where we are today, and how we can act to end this modern-day slavery.
Black-led organizations have long been the backbone of activist communities across the country.
We can celebrate Juneteenth by donating to organizations that understand the needs of the Black community and use their resources to address them as best as they can.
7) As An Ally, Show Support
Please remember to be mindful that while Black people may refer to Juneteenth as a holiday, or celebration, it is one that holds grave historical and cultural meaning - which can be deeply painful for many Black community members. Listen. Learn. Redistribute wealth. Amplify Black voices.