In the midst of worldwide calls for social justice change, celebration of Juneteenth is probably more important this year than not. Juneteenth, also called Black Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Cel-Liberation Day, and Jubilee Day, commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when Black slaves were legally freed in the United States.
Texas, in 1980, was the first state to officially celebrate Juneteenth. Since then, 47 states, including Washington D.C., have followed suit. Congress stalled throughout the years on declaring Juneteenth as a national holiday; however, calls have once again resurfaced to do so.
Here are five ways that you can mark Juneteenth and celebrate how far we have come and contemplate how far we still have yet to go in the name of freedom.
1. Virtual Museum Visit As a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many are still not comfortable heading out and about. Well, why not tour a museum online? To honor Juneteenth, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will host an online presentation about the importance of the holiday. This is a must-see for all ages and races.
2. Get Involved Opportunities to speak up and speak out have never been so prevalent as they are at this moment. Join a walk for justice or check out what types of events your city will host for the day. This is a time to let your voice be heard, but make sure to do it safely and follow recommended CDC guidelines to stay healthy.
3. Ask an elder Whether it is a family member, black vet, etc. grandparents, preachers, teachers, educators, historians, all have a story to share. Ask them their opinions on what is going on today. Ask them to tell you about what things were like when they were your age. First-hand oral histories are the best way to learn about our history.
4. Read a book There are many books that can help broaden not only knowledge about Juneteenth, but about Black History overall. Many bookstores have posted online resources and recommendations of catalogs geared towards not only Black History, but written by black authors as well.
5. Binge Watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are among the streaming services that have curated Black Lives Matter series. Whether it is Selma, When They See Us, 13th, #BlackAF, The Hate U Give, Remember The Titans, or others, there is something for everyone within these collections. Whether you are a documentary buff or just want to watch a movie, there are plenty to choose from. Yet, beware, you may realize that you have sat and binged all night.
This year, make sure to celebrate Juneteenth in a special way. If this is your first year celebrating, make it a family habit and build on tradition for generations to come.