Juneteenth also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day is an annual celebration and commemoration of the day that slavery ended in the US. This holiday dates back to June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers told the people of Galveston, TX that slaves were now free thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation signed two years earlier.
Like Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th this holiday should be celebrated by all Americans as it signifies what our country stands on-- Freedom. For years my family has been celebrating Juneteenth in various ways, this year will be no different. Whether you grew up celebrating Juneteenth or are considering celebrating this American holiday for the first time, here are some ways you can celebrate Juneteenth with your friends and family.
1. Support Black Businesses
One of my favorite ways to celebrate Juneteenth is by supporting black owned businesses. We make it our business to grab lunch or dinner from one of our favorite local black owned restaurants. This year we plan on grabbing BBQ from Gatlins BBQ. I already know what I'm getting.
Here is a list of a few other Houston Black owned Businesses that I absolutely LOVE:
Not in Houston?
Don't worry I found this really cool Juneteenth Virtual shopping event that will include 100 black owned businesses. The event will take place June 19, 2020 and include shopping for all types of household and clothing products. CLICK HERE to register for the event.
2. Host your own Social Distancing Celebration
Juneteenth is like any other summer holiday and is marked by time spent with friends and family, good eats and reflection. This year we will be having a few friends over to eat Gatlins BBQ and my homemade banana pudding. Also, don't forget the red drink that symbolizes the blood of the ancestors, as well as the watermelon which was the symbol of freedom after slavery since many newly freed black people grew, ate and sold watermelon.
3. Attend a celebration---virtually because COVID 19
Typically Juneteenth is marked with barbecues and baseball games, parades and parties, rodeos and reunions, much like the Fourth of July. However, due to COVID -19 many large celebrations will not take place. However, there are still ways to attend celebrations--virtually. Check out the list of virtual celebrations taking place:
- The Amistad Center for Art & Culture's annual Juneteenth Gala
This year the gala will take place virtually on Friday, June 19, 2020 from 7PM to 8PM. The event , hosted by NBC Connecticut's Leslie Mayes, will feature a performance by saxophonist David Davis and a virtual toast with a signature Junetini cocktail to mark the 155th Juneteenth. New Executive Director, Kimberly Kersey will talk about The Amistad Center’s future. Click HERE to register
-Juneteenth Virtual Music Festival
This event seems like its going to be a ton of fun with 3 virtual competitions including a dance, rap and comedy show competition. Grab your Junetini cocktail and join in on the fun Thursday, June 18, 2020. More information can be found HERE
4. Watch one of these films
Juneteenth is a day of celebration and awakening. To help explore race relations check out some of these films that explore the need for further racial reconciliation. Grab some popcorn, a friend and check out a few of these films:
This film is available on Netflix and takes a deep dive into the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African Americans. This documentary will leave you wanting to do more to bring change to a system that for so long has worked to keep minorities suppressed.
Set in the summer of 1967, when rioting and civil unrest was tearing the Motor City apart, this film speaks to an era of protest. The film is fact-based and is set at the Algier's motel during a police stand off. After this film, maybe finally those of you still unsure of what Black Lives Matters stands for will better understand.
This powerful documentary covers the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke and the cover-up that followed. Initially, the police declared the shooting as justified, however thanks to journalists and activists footage was released which painted a different picture, which led to an unprecedented conviction.
Whatever way you decide to celebrate Juneteenth due it with purpose. Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day in which we honor, respect and reflect on the sufferings of slavery. It is a time to reflect and for Americans to reflect and rejoice. I hope you use this day to listen and learn from your fellow neighbors. This will help us all refresh the drive to achieve and make a better America. I can't think of a better way to utilize the energy wasted on racism.
I pray your Juneteenth is one of jubilant, happiness, enlightenment and peace.