As June 19th (Juneteenth) approaches, common questions seem to surface as to what exactly this day is and if there’s an actual celebration. Don’t worry…we got you covered. Let’s cover the basics first then get into the good stuff.
What is Juneteenth?
Good question. Instead of going through an entire history lesson, here’s the rundown. June 19, 1865 was the day that Major General Granger, a Union Soldier, delivered news to Galveston, Texas that the US civil war was over and those who were enslaved were now free. However, this day was two and a half years AFTER the actual emancipation proclamation was signed and put in motion by President Lincoln (January 1, 1863). Basically, this is the day that officially ended slavery because the last known slaves were finally free men and women. Beginning a new era for black people and black culture in the US. Many consider this to be their Independence Day — affectionately referred to as Freedom Day.
What Happens on Juneteenth?
For starters, Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas was purchased by black leaders in 1872. It was the first and earliest plot of land purchased specifically in the name of Juneteenth. Used to celebrate the time and bring people together; this day of jubilee dates back nearly 150 years! Family and friends would gather in various parks and celebrate freedom. They would throw food onto a barbecue, sing, dance, fish and play all types of games. Today, there are numerous observances around the country to honor the gravity of this historic day. Some communities even have parties and parades! Nowadays at Emancipation Park, you can commonly find children playing on the jungle gyms and/or splashing in the splash area, people skateboarding or simply picnicking.
How To Celebrate June 19th?
Although June 19th has gained traction across the nation, being recognized as a holiday in nearly all 50 states, many people are either unaware of the significance or simply don’t know what they can do in observance of this day. So, here’s 3 family friendly ways you can celebrate and/or observe this holiday:
Attend an Event
Nationwide events occur every year to celebrate this historic day. Not only could you go to a place such as Emancipation Park, but your local county is likely hosting a number of events as well. Some events may have different focuses such as educating attendees on Black History in America. Others may look to share creative art such as poems and paintings from local black artists. Remember, the foundation of these events is based on being able to freely share the knowledge, skills and various abilities of a people who were unable to share such things some time ago. Being able to freely share an expression of ones self in the form of education or art is the polar opposite from the days surrounding emancipation. Especially in a large public gathering. Here in San Diego, a number of festive and inspirational events will be happening this year. Take some time to create a memory. Maybe start a new tradition. Get to an event, have some fun, get inspired and bring the family!
Shop and Support Black Owned Businesses
Fast Company published this article last year with ways to find black owned businesses in your area. The article highlights apps and websites with directories full of black owned businesses around the US. You can find just about anything from baked goods, restaurants and beauty products to hand crafted jewelry, furniture and clothing. Most of the directories are intuitive and easy to navigate with search bars for keywords or categories of business. With that said, think of some things you, a loved one or your home could use. Browse one of th directories for businesses near you and turn it into an experience! Go visit the storefront (if there is one). Browse their websites for that elusive item you’ve been searching high and low for. Should you find something you like…SUPPORT. Every business owner exercises their freedom by having a business. Actually being able to enjoy the fruits of their efforts is a different freedom. Celebrate freedom by giving some fruit and supporting the business or businesses of your choice.
Have a Cookout
This is easily the most authentic Juneteenth celebration because it embodies the very spirit of Juneteenth. You may find people grilling at parks or even having block parties with a grill nearby. A grill represents the traditional cooking method used at the time (fire pit) and captures the aromas that newly emancipated people would have experienced during their celebrations. While a red drink (typically strawberry soda) would be in remembrance of the ancestors lost prior to emancipation. Food brings people together. Provides a sense of unity and commonality. This is used as a time for bonding, conversation, having some fun and most importantly…sharing some love. Honestly, who doesn’t love a good cookout? Gather friends and family, have some type of red beverage and games handy, grill some goodies and enjoy the moment! This is all about enjoying the FREE time we have with those we love and being able to engage with those very people in a fun and joyous environment. Let loose!
This Is How We Juneteenth
At the end of the day, Juneteenth isn’t a celebration or holiday strictly for black people. The day is more about reaching a milestone regarding equality in America and being able to stand as one with our counterparts. Regardless of our differences. You see, this day highlights freedom but the underlying theme is UNITY. All the events and happenings around the country are bringing people
together, no matter the focus of the event. Color, no matter the shade, is a point of pride. But freedom is a human right. One that can and should be celebrated by
anyone. At this stage in America’s history, unity is far more essential than divisiveness. We, as a united people, will always be stronger together.
About the Author
Josh Mannings is freelance writer for hire who lives in sunny California with his wife and two beautiful children. As a writer, he is passionate about creating unforgettable memories with family, traveling and financial literacy. He works closely with B2C businesses providing copywrite and digital marketing content aimed to increase search engine visibility. You can contact and find out more about Josh on