In the United States there is a holiday celebrated by many Americans, specifically those of African descent. This holiday is Juneteenth, a celebration in history that official marks the end of slavery around the country. Through the years and different regions the holiday has taken on many names. The titles of Black Independence Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day are a few . In the end, the name Juneteenth was formed from melding the month and date, June 19th.
U.S. Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1862 which allowed Union troops to seize Confederate property, to include the enslaved people. This was one of the first attempts to end slavery. The next attempt was during the American Civil War. Former President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, with the specific clause to free all slaves. Despite this law being passed it took almost two years for the state of Texas to be advised by Union soldiers that slavery was abolished. The delay in this message reaching Texas is not too clear but when the last slaves were told it was a joyous occasion and former slaves began to celebrate.
The celebrations began the next year and have been held every year since. Events are African themed from family gatherings, hosted educational events, festivals and religious services. Juneteenth is a special occasion that is recognized nationally. This holiday is also recognized in several other countries as a day to recognize the end of slavery.
Over one hundred years later, Juneteenth is not taught in the current school system curriculum or listed as a federal holiday; however it is recognized by nearly every state as a local holiday or observance. As we grow culturally aware in society we are developing our diversity.
On June 18, 2021, President Joe Bidden signed a Proclamation that Juneteenth is a day of observance and declared a national holiday effective immediately. Learn more about the proclamation from the White House Briefing Room
Here are five recommended ways to teach, celebrate and honor Juneteenth:
EDUCATE - Research free and reputable sources for information regarding Juneteenth. Preview the information and share it with young people based on their age. Visit a local museum or library and research about African American culture. The National Museum of African American History and Culture shares an interactive tour and several online opportunities Check out this PBS article on Observing Juneteenth it should delight all ages.
EXPERIENCE - Food is a symbol of cultural pride associated with a Juneteenth celebration. Find a few recipes that you can share with your family over dinner or snack. Kids can pick out a recipe and try to prepare it and share it with friends. I found a few yummy southern recipes at The Juneteenth Menu by the Food Network to try that are easy to make.
ENTERTAIN - Watch African music videos, try to learn dances such as the Juba and Ring dance. If you feel confident enough, make your own video on Tic Tok and share it. Read and Storytell African-American folktales, songs and hymns. Learn about the significance of the folktales and how to apply it in your life. Read Juneteenth or The Story of Juneteenth: an interactive history adventure
EXCHANGE - Seek out locally and purchase from black owned businesses during this occasion of heritage to support and connect with the African culture.. Beyond your local community a great find is the Black Enterprise list of Black Businesses
By TyRenee, publisher of local editions