Today is an important milestone in American history: Juneteenth! And this is definitely a day that you and your family should take the time to learn about and celebrate. So bring the holiday home with our tips, resources and events the whole family will enjoy.
The History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth, short for “June Nineteenth,” is a celebration that signifies the day federal troops marched into Galveston in 1865 to take control of the state and free all enslaved people. Since then, Juneteenth (also referred to as Emancipation Day) is a day for African Americans to honor their culture and history, while also giving non-Black people an opportunity to learn about the day’s significance.
Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979 and is considered to be the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery in America. Now, 47 states and Washington D.C. recognize the holiday.
Educate the Family
If your family understands the meaning of the day, celebrating creates a new level of appreciation. We recommend checking out a few of these books about Juneteenth to educate your children:
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson; ages 5–9
Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley; ages 7–10
Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays) by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; ages 7–10
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper; ages 6–9
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford; ages 6–9
The Story of Juneteenth by Steven Otfinoski; ages 8–11
Prepare a Feast
According to Atlas Obscura, red-colored foods and drinks are staples of the commemorative holiday. Consider including the popular Texas Big Red soda, red velvet cakes, watermelon … the list goes on.
And like most holidays, the list of traditional Juneteenth foods varies from household to household.
So if this is your first Juneteenth celebration, University of Texas at Dallas’ Multicultural Center released their inaugural Juneteenth Community Cookbook as a part of this year’s Juneteenth festivities. The recipes range from church punch and collard greens to “Strawberry Mess” and cream cheese flan.
The Prairie View A&M University staff also collaborated on a “Taste of Freedom” Juneteenth cookbook you can check out here. Both UTD and Prairie View A&M’s cookbooks are free to view and download.
Join a Virtual Celebration
Due to safety concerns surrounding the pandemic, most Juneteenth events have gone digital. But there’s no shortage of virtual Juneteenth celebrations this year, so consider taking part in one (or many) of these events with your little ones.
African American Museum’s Virtual Juneteenth Celebration // June 19th at 2pm
Featuring presentations from W. Marvin Dulaney, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the African American Museum, and Don Pinkard, tour guide for Hidden History Tours, this online program will shed some historical background on the day. No tickets necessary.
Denton Juneteenth Celebration // Various activities
Denton will hold its annual Juneteenth celebration virtually. From a freedom run to the Celebration Parade, the city has made all efforts to continue the Juneteenth traditions.
Desoto Juneteenth // Five-part series
The Desoto Parks and Recreation Department created a five-part web series that captures cultural art, history, education and fashion to celebrate Juneteenth from the comfort of your home.
Livestream Juneteenth the Stage Play by Greg Ellis // June 20 at 7:30pm
Livestream the play co-written, starring, directed and produced by former Dallas Cowboy Greg Ellis over the weekend. The play is about a relationship between a Texas slave-woman and slave-man before emancipation. A virtual ticket to the show is $10.95.
Live Juneteenth Celebrate // June 19th at noon
The UTD family invites all to join the Juneteenth celebration via Microsoft Teams. The university encourages all to prep their favorite meals with its Juneteenth Community Cookbook, and put on their dancing shoes for a festive virtual gathering.
Opal’s Walk for Juneteenth Caravan // June 19th at 9am
In lieu of a parade, 93-year-old Opal Lee will lead a 2.5-mile caravan through downtown Fort Worth as she continues her walking campaign to make Juneteenth a National Day of Observance in the United States. You can virtually walk behind Opal Lee by signing her petition; tune into the caravan livestream here.
Are you celebrating or taking the time to teach your kids about the importance of the day? Tell us how at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of iStock.