Originally shared to my Instagram page. This post is to share what Juneteenth is and what it means to me.
Disclosure: Old World New uses affiliate links.
What is Juneteenth?
June 19, 1865 – the date that Black people in Texas found out that they were no longer enslaved. This was more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln, making them the last Black people to be “freed.” This date became a celebratory day known as Juneteenth.
How do we celebrate Juneteenth?
Local leaders and churches in the Black community plan a city-wide day of celebration that feels like a family reunion:
- parade + cookout
- drill team dances and performances
- presenting students with scholarships
Juneteenth is like a FAMILY REUNION to me!
When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of summer was how my aunt, cousins, and sister would buy matching outfits for us. This was especially true for events like Juneteeth. In the main pictures, the older girls (my sister and cousin) are dressed alike in jerseys and they found shirt in my size to match while we sat on Main Street waiting for the parade to pass by.
My favorite childhood Juneteenth memories
Drill Team was my favorite way to participate in Juneteenth as a child. We would spend weeks at one of the local churches practicing a marching dance routine. On the day of the Juneteenth celebration, we’d all be wearing matching outfits. We would wake up ealry to meet at the parade starting spot, and load the back of a truck to carry us most of the way through the parade. When we would reach Main Street and finally have the chance to strut our stuff, you couldn’t tell us NOTHING! I love to dance and perform, so that rush of adrenaline would linger with me all day as we continued the celebrations – eating BBQ, having dance offs when the good songs came on, seeing joy on the faces our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, and relatives that have traveled “down home” to celebrate.
Celebrating Juneteenth during COVID-19
This year, during COVID-19 social distancing, here is what I’ll be doing to celebrate with my family:
- Little Boo is 3.5, so I feel like he’s finally old enough to just talk about Juneteenth in a casual manner and even in our homeschool curriculum. Talking about it makes it apart of his normal vocabulary so that it won’t be a foreign concept to him when we study it in-depth when he is older
- Sharing where we purchased our Juneteenth shirts this year
- Watching the live stream of “SMART FUNNY & BLACK in DA CRIB” on Friday June 19
- Attending a parade while social distancing
- Helping Little Boo practice reciting a Langston Hughes poem
- Listening to “Lift Every Voice & Sing” several times
Juneteenth is celebrated in a town in Mexico, too!
A village in Mexico (Nacimiento de los Negros – “Birth of the Blacks” in Coahuila, Mexico) celebrates Juneteenth (called “Dia de los Negros” – “Day of the Blacks” there)annually because it was once home to thousands of fugitives from slavery who fled to Mexico because they declared the enslavement of Black people illegal in 1829. After June 19, 1865, many more Black people fled Texas for this town in Mexico.
Now that you know about Juneteenth, DO:
- Continue to research and learn more about Juneteenth with the people closest to you
- Teach others who may not know about Juneteenth – your family members, children, coworkers, etc
- Say “HAPPY JUNETEENTH!”
- Advocate along with others in your workplace, city, state, & schools to officially recognize Juneteenth
- Sign change.orgpetition by Opal Lee to make Juneteenth a National Holiday
- Start, or continue, the work to be anti-racist
Now that you know about Juneteenth, DON’T:
- DON’T forget about Juneteenth after the trend of knowing about it fades away in a few days
- “Juneteenth Jamboree” – an annual documentary produced by PBS
- “What is Juneteenth” by Henry Louis Gates
- “How to use Juneteenth to practice allyship” by Kiva Wilson & Dr. Evelyn Carter
Juneteenth Books for Kids
- “Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper – Purchase on Amazon
- “Juneteenth Jamboree” by Carole Boston Weatherford – Purchase on Amazon
- “Juneteenth” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & Drew Nelson – Purchase on Amazon