Juneteenth Flag

Here Comes Juneteenth! How To Celebrate This Special Day

The third Sunday in June is, of course, Father’s Day – a day during which fathers are celebrated for their tireless contributions to their families.

However, Sunday, June 19th isn’t just for dads. It is a very special day in American history, one that celebrates freedom and liberty for all African Americans. It’s known as Juneteenth, but it has many other names too. Emancipation Day, for one. Freedom Day, for another. But no matter what you call it, Juneteenth is an important day on the calendar that sees people in every state partying, throwing parades, and highlighting the achievements of the civil rights movement in America.

In this post, we explain the history of Juneteenth, and suggest ways for you and your family to mark and celebrate this all-important date.

black women working on laptop

How It Started:

On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery. The document was called the Emancipation Proclamation, and news of this development spread across the northern states. However, the announcement failed to reach Texas promptly, though historians are not sure what caused the delay. Some speculate that the messenger was intercepted on his way to give the news to the politicians of the day. Nonetheless, on June 19th, 1865, people in Galveston learned of the Emancipation Proclamation when the head of the Union Troops announced it from the balcony of what was once Confederate headquarters. Now, the freedom of slaves was official across the south. The next year, on June 19th, 1866, people began hosting parties and parades to celebrate the new freedom of Black people all across America.

Juneteenth Today:

Different states made June 19th a holiday at different times, but now the holiday is universal. In 2021, President Joe Biden declared June 19th a federal holiday. And so now, all across America, workers have a civic holiday that is devoted to commemorating the end of slavery.
In 1977, a special flag was designed by Ben Haith, who created the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. With every passing year, the foundation has sponsored bigger and better celebrations, and this year is hosting the Freedom Festival. For more information on the foundation and its upcoming events, check out: (http://pajuneteenth.org/national-juneteenth-observance-foundation-njof/).

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How To Commemorate Juneteenth:

June 19th is an important day that deserves all kinds of commemorations! Here’s how you and your family can make the day special.

1) Attend parades and other events.

No doubt there is an organization in your community that will be sponsoring events to mark Juneteenth. Find out where and when, and buy tickets or make a donation if an event – like a parade – is free to attend. Showing up and engaging in conversation with leaders of Juneteenth in your city or town helps you learn why the date is so important in American history. You can also find out other ways you can help when talking with organizers. Maybe you can volunteer? Take tickets or sell t-shirts? However you decide to participate is up to you – what matters is that you get involved.

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2) Support Black-owned businesses.

Make an effort to shop at stores owned by Black proprietors. Dine at a restaurant owned by Black business people, or that has a Black chef, or preferably both! Explore your community and make a concerted effort to seek out these places, and become a regular customer. This is a great way to show support for Black enterprises all year long.

3) Take your child to a museum with Black history exhibits.

One of the best ways for children to learn that Black history is American history is by taking them to museums that display the evolution of freedom in this country. The road was not always smooth, and there are difficult chapters to explain, but exhibits at museums help enormously. They depict, often with photographs and other artwork, the struggle for equality and freedom that culminated in Juneteenth.

4) Support Black writers and other artists.

Another great way to support Juneteenth all year long is by buying books, paintings, and other creative works by Black artists. Play music by Black composers. Watch a movie or television show with Black casts, created by Black directors like Spike Lee. And again, show this support year round, not just on June 19th.

My America Cookbook

5) Host a backyard party with an African American menu.

Throw a party that features Black culinary specialties, everything from barbecued ribs to peach cobbler.
For inspiration, check out Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s book, “My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef.”

Here’s a link you can review written by 44 different Black bloggers. Each one contributes a recipe for celebrating Black food on Juneteenth: (https://food52.com/blog/26293-juneteenth-virtual-potluck-2021).

6) Fly the Juneteenth flag outside your home and business.

There are some delightful, handcrafted versions of the special flag honoring Juneteenth available on Etsy. Go to: (https://www.etsy.com/market/juneteenth_flag). The site also has terrific t-shirts for sale with quotes by, and photos of, key players in the freedom movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr.

However you decide to support and celebrate Juneteenth is, of course, up to you. But whether you do it in ways large or small, keep in mind that the end of slavery more than 150 years ago didn’t mean the end of the fight for freedom. There is still a lot to do to keep advancing civil rights. But on June 19th, pause and have a party! Celebrate all that has been achieved, and get together with friends and family who want to celebrate too. Eat good food, share lots of laughter, and relish all that has been accomplished since the days of Abraham Lincoln.