Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day) is a day to honor and celebrate liberation. It’s a celebration of the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation — which had been signed two years prior and freed all enslaved people — made its way to Texas.
Why the delay? Back then, Texas was extremely remote; it took a long time for news of General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox to make its way to Texas. And even after word had finally reached Texas, many enslavers tried to hide the news or otherwise delay emancipation. On June 19, 1865, Union troops made it to Galveston Bay, TX and announced that all enslaved Black people in the state were freed by federal decree.
Juneteenth is sometimes called America’s true independence day, on the grounds that July 4, 1776, only represents the day that white male Americans became free. On June 17, 2021, after a decades-long push by American activists and leaders, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially marking June 19 as a federal holiday! Keep reading for five fun ways to celebrate Juneteenth with the whole family.
Find an event in your neighborhood
Juneteenth is a day filled with rodeos, parades and street fairs featuring live music, local artists, and tasty food. Take advantage of the paid holiday and head out with your family to a local celebration!
Cook traditional food
Nothing says celebration like a special meal! Break out the grill for some old fashioned barbecue — or, try one of these traditional Juneteenth recipes. Because the color red symbolizes the resilience of the enslaved, most Juneteenth feasts feature red foods like pork, heirloom tomatoes, or strawberries. If cooking isn’t your truth, order from a Black-owned restaurant instead.
Support a Black-owned business
Treat yourself (and the family!) and go for a shopping spree at Black-owned businesses. Whether you’re in the mood for luxurious vegan skincare, new reads from a feminist bookstore, or vintage ceramics, you’re sure to find a top-notch Black-owned business to support this Juneteenth.
Engage with Black artists
Looking to expand your family’s playlist rotation? Spotify has tons of playlists like Black Lives Matter and The Black Power Mixtape that feature past and present Black musicians. Want to start a new family TV show? Try one of the dozens of TV shows with Juneteenth episodes, like Black-ish and Atlanta. Hankering for a family museum trip? Find a museum near you that uplifts Black culture – like The National Museum of African American History and Culture or The National Civil Rights Museum.
Volunteer for voter registration
The history of Juneteenth is all about celebrating enfranchisement! If you’re looking to get your kids civically active, take a family day to help folks register to vote or get in touch with organizations like Rock The Vote, HeadCount and Fair Fight that need volunteers to spread awareness about voting rights.
However you engage this Juneteenth, honoring the day can become a new and treasured family tradition. Looking to learn more about Black history? Check out our Black History Month blog.