8 Ways to Celebrate & Commemorate Juneteenth that You Can Participate in From Anywhere
While Juneteenth only recently became a federal holiday, it is one of the most important days in American history. On June 19th, 1865, nearly 3 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, and announced the abolition of slavery. Up until then, the news that more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states were to be freed had not yet reached all communities. With the delivery of this incredible news, African Americans were bursting with celebrations of prayer, feasting, song, and dance. A hope which was deferred for far too long had finally come to fruition; slavery was abolished and African Americans were proclaimed free.
As we prepare to celebrate Juneteenth, we are so grateful for the many ways we can honor this important day and spend intentional time with our families. In the blog post, we’re sharing 8 Juneteenth celebrations you and your family can participate in from anywhere. At home, with friends, or out in your community – we invite you to join us in commemorating Juneteenth in an intentional and meaningful way.
1. Go within and explore what “rest and recovery” looks like for your family
The complexity of generational trauma is something that still affects many African Americans greatly. While there is no simple way to untangle the anguish of trauma, participating in self-care, rest, and relaxation are all ways to embrace freedom and stand in opposition to the effects of oppression. On Juneteenth, it is especially important to carve out time for yourself and for joy. Invite your family to join you in taking a moment to think of what would bring a sense of pleasure or joy to your day, and then go after it boldly.
2. Take time to learn about the Juneteenth flag
Displaying the text, June 19, 1865, red, white, and blue colors, and a bursting star in the center – the Juneteenth flag is full of symbolism. Created by activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, this banner is likely to be seen flying over state capitals and city buildings on Juneteenth. If you have little kids, we’ve linked a few Juneteenth flag crafts below, as well as educational YouTube videos to check out.
3. Check out NMAACH Kids Understanding & Celebrating Juneteenth Online
The National Museum of African American History and Culture has created an extensive online guide on how to support young children’s understanding and celebration of Juneteenth. This multi-page resource was compiled by NMAAHC’s early children’s education team and is a truly exceptional free resource. It includes tips on age-appropriate ways to talk to your kids about slavery and freedom, activities to inspire hope and activism, helpful books, as well as a list of other helpful online resources. As mentioned, this is a free resource you can access using the link below,
image: The National Museum of African American History & Culture https://wsdia.com/work/national-museum-of-african-american-history-culture-nmaahc
4. Shop Black-Owned Businesses if you’re able
By shopping at Black-owned businesses, we can help to close the wealth gap and create opportunities for black entrepreneurs. When we buy from Black-owned businesses, like Ade + Ayo, we are investing in the Black community and sending a message that we believe in Black excellence. We’ve curated several blogs about some of our favorite Black-owned businesses that we encourage you to check out, and the below websites are all excellent tools for finding Black-owned businesses in your area or online.
5. BBQ, red drinks, and fireworks
A popular way to celebrate Juneteenth is to host or attend a BBQ with symbolic food and drinks. A particular tradition that is often associated with Juneteenth is the drinking of red drinks. This practice can be traced back to the early days of Juneteenth celebrations when punch was a popular beverage choice – it was typically made with red fruits and berries, which helped to give it its distinctive color. Over time, this tradition has evolved and red drinks have come to represent the blood that was shed in the fight for freedom.
image: Sorrel (Caribbean Red Drink) https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2022/06/10/red-drink-recipe-juneteenth/
6. Attend a virtual/online Juneteenth celebration
There are hundreds of gatherings, both online and locally, that are free to attend and are organized to celebrate Juneteenth. You can use a tool like Eventbrite to find a gathering near you or to attend virtually. They have hundreds of options from online learning experiences to commemorative concerts and festivals to celebrations for kids.
7. Visit an African American History Museum
There are dozens of African American History Museums all across America, many of which are hosting their own events to celebrate and commemorate Juneteenth. You can find your state on this list to see if there is an African American History Museum near you.
8. Enjoy time at a local park
Gathering in the name of freedom, enjoyment, and community is a simple way to commemorate Juneteenth, and we love the idea of doing so at your local park. Celebrating outdoors and in nature is particularly special, and has been an important part of African American culture. Local parks are places where people of all backgrounds and ages can come and enjoy communal space, displaying the beauty as well as the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
Join us in one – or three – or in all of the above ways that you and your family can commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth. And remember to take a moment to do something that brings you joy, for no other reason than for enjoyment’s sake. Honor those that have given their lives for freedom, for those who did not live to see it, and for those who continue the work that is so necessary to ensure a future where equality, inclusivity, and diversity are abundant. If you have a special way that you will be celebrating or commemorating Juneteenth this year, let us know in the comments. We love hearing your unique ideas and stories. And happy Juneteenth to you and your family.