Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19th every year, holds immense meaning for the Black community. Juneteenth is also commonly called Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, or Liberation Day. Dating back to 1865, it is the celebration of the end of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and a half years before June 19th, but it took a while for the news to travel across the United States, specifically to the South. It was not until June 19th, 1865 that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to tell the Texans that the war was over and slavery was no longer legal. There are mixed stories about whether the Texans already knew and were ignoring the Proclamation or if they actually just hearing about it for the first time when Major General Gordon Granger arrived. Either way, his arrival was marked as Juneteenth, the unofficial celebration as the end of slavery.
Celebrations began as church-sanctioned events held in Texas, but over the years, the celebrations became bigger and spread throughout the rest of the United States. Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a day of remembrance in a majority of states and it is a prime date for parties, cookouts, family reunions, and other large gatherings. In the past, large gatherings have been a staple of Juneteenth celebrations. One of my favorite Juneteenth memories is a large block party held on my street. We cut off the entire block and it felt like all of DC came! It was such a powerful feeling and so uplifting to be in that space. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we will not be having block parties anytime soon, but there are still ways to celebrate! In light of recent events, it is more important than ever that we uphold this holiday. Here are ways you can celebrate Juneteenth, no matter your race:
1. Sign to Make juneteenth a national holiday
Sign this petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Today Juneteenth is celebrated in 47 of the 50 states and some companies have even decided to make Juneteenth a paid day off. While this is positive change, today it is not a holiday for all. Because it is not a nationally recognized holiday, a majority of Black people will still have to work on the day. This year, citizens of all colors are pushing harder than ever for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. Juneteenth should be a widespread and widely accepted holiday in which all people should be able to celebrate without having to worry about having to work and pay. Let’s make this happen!
2. Buy from Black-owned businesses
Support the Black community on Juneteenth by buying from Black-owned businesses. Rather than solely putting up a Juneteenth post on your social media accounts, support the Black community with your dollars! Below are some of my personal favorites:
- Golde, Health/Self-Care, (IG:@golde)
- Hanahana Beauty, Skin & Personal Care, (IG:@hanahanabeauty)
- Nolaskinsentials, Skin Care, (IG:@nolaskinsentials)
- Rendered Inc, Fashion, (IG:@renderedinc)
- Touch Body Works, Skin Care, (IG:@touch_body_works)
Personally, I am trying to only buy from Black-owned businesses, and I have been using this directory resource. It lists Black-owned businesses ranging from food & drink to home decor to finance and so much more! Not all listings are sustainable; however, if you search for the tags: #sustainable, #secondhand, #vintage, or #ethical, you can find some sustainable options to support on Juneteenth and every day after!
3. Share Information on Your Social Media
Act as an ally by halting regular posting and sharing resources. Black Lives Matter is not over — there is still so much work to do! There have been multiple new cases of police brutality at and outside of protests, and there have been multiple cases of lynchings happening across the country. Use your platform to condemn racism and help the grow the BLM movement! Here are some documents and websites with streamlined resources to help you get involved:
4. Educate Yourself on How to be Actively Anti-Racist
It is not enough to just not be racist; we must all be actively anti-racist and that starts with arming yourself with knowledge. Here are some Black-owned bookstores where you can find the recommended books from the above resources:
- Ashay by the Bay (IG:@ashaybythebay)
- Brave & Kind Books (IG:@braveandkindbooks)
- Harriett’s Bookshop (IG:@harrietts_bookshop)
- Mahogany Books (IG:@mahoganybooks)
- Reparations Club (IG:@reparations.club)
5. Uplift Black Voices
We hope that you have diversified your feed to include Black creators. Share their stories! Always tag them and give them credit! Below are the Instagram handles some of my personal favorite creators:
6. Create Your Own Content
If you are interested in creating your own content, there are a lot of websites that you can use to pull appropriate photos. Here are two:
- The National Museum of African American History & Culture Open Access has tons of free photos that you can browse in order to produce content.
- Tonl is a Black-owned stock photography company. Check them out for diverse stock photos!
Even though Juneteenth marked the end of slavery in the literal sense, Black people in America are still enslaved. From daily microaggressions to systemic racism, Black people are still fighting for equality. Use Juneteenth to show your support.