When is Juneteenth?
Friday, June 19, 2020.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX with the news that the (Civil) war had ended and that all of the enslaved in the United States were finally free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation became official over two years earlier (January 1, 1863), there weren’t enough Union soldiers in Texas at the time to enforce President Lincoln’s now-famous Executive Order. In combination with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender in April of 1865, the arrival of Major General Granger’s regiment gave the Union the power it needed to enforce it.
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
-Major General Gordon Granger
How is Juneteenth Celebrated?
From the moment of the announcement of freedom, many felt that leaving the plantation was an immediate manifestation of their freedom. This led them to seek out family members and loved ones in other states to celebrate their freedom and begin their new lives together. Thus, the inspiration for celebrating that later coined “Juneteenth” was born. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
The Juneteenth celebration has been a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.
How Can Families Celebrate Juneteenth Respectfully?
Review the History Together
The best way to start celebrating Juneteenth is by spending time as a family learning about what the holiday is and why it’s celebrated. We’ve collected a few online resources to help get you started:
Educational cartoon about Juneteenth
Short animated video from the show Black-ish
Quick history of Juneteenth and how it’s celebrated today
More in-depth history with photographs and video of modern celebrations
Two Minute History of Juneteenth
Like many holidays, decorating is an important ritual to help everyone prepare for the celebration. You could display Juneteenth signs in your yard and encourage your neighbors to do the same. You could also celebrate the history and heritage of African American arts and culture by making crafts together.
Make a Meal Together
A family does some of their best bonding and celebrating around food. Learn from some African-Amerian chefs and what food on Juneteenth means to them.
Discuss How Racism Still Exists Today
Juneteenth is a great day to celebrate the end of slavery but to also recognize where we still have lots of work to do in this country—particularly in regards to racism. As a parent, it can be difficult to know where to begin when tackling an important subject, like racism, with your kids. One way is to take the lead from a good book to get the conversation started.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
From the beginning, Black Americans have been at a significant economic disadvantage. Use the celebration of Juneteenth to discover more Black-owned businesses in your neighborhood and commit to being a consumer of their goods and services more regularly. To find businesses in your area, check out these resources:
Join A Virtual Juneteenth Event
In the time of COVID, gathering with others for any holiday is just not as possible as it used to be. Get the best of both worlds by joining a virtual event to celebrate Juneteenth with people from all over the world.
Make A Family Plan To Take Action
A major element to the celebration of Juneteenth is personal growth and development. How does the celebration of Juneteenth inspire your family to take action for change—whether within yourselves or your community? Carry on the spirit of Juneteenth by making a plan of action together for the rest of the year.
Not sure where to start? We came across a full month’s guide to learn about racism, power, privilege, and oppression, broken out by actions to take each day.