Juneteenth (formally known as African American Freedom Day or Emancipation Day) is in representation of June 19th, 1865. This date marks the time when the enslaved African Americans in Confederate States were told they were no longer under the law and concept of being enslaved… two years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation. Although January 1, 1863, is when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, it was not yet implemented everywhere. The concept of enslaving humans was still protected under Confederate control in ten states. However, on June 19, 1865, many Union troops made it to Galveston Bay, Texas. There they officially pronounced that over 250,000 enslaved African Americans in the state were no longer enslaved under this law.
Juneteenth has now become a well-known federal holiday and is to be celebrated all throughout the United States. June 19, 2023 is a historic date. What a time to be alive and see what is known as our second Independence Day! This day marks not only what is known as Freedom, but also union, hope, and another milestone for our country. This is a time to grow, build with other communities, and share our experiences and truths.
Born in the 80s and growing up in the 90s, I always knew I was considered a black girl. But I never acknowledged what that meant in America. I grew up in a predominantly Latino neighborhood where many of my classmates and friends did not have my hair texture, complexion, or home structure. They also had their own language, which their parents spoke, but my Puerto Rican friends and classmates spoke both English and Spanish. Still, I mainly saw more of what we had in common. Things like our style of clothing, music, and neighborhood culture. I noticed these things more than the things that were obviously different. Especially since black excellence was not being taught in our neighborhood schools. Growing up, in my old neighborhood, we did not learn much about black excellence in school. We were mostly taught about what I’d like to call the “Big Three”, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and, of course, Harriet Tubman. But there were no lessons on any of the other African American history icons such as Malcolm X or Nat Turner. I did not get to learn about things like The Black Panther Party or Black Wall Street. With the busyness of work and staying on top of the lessons that were being taught, my mom never got deep into the history of our excellence either. Most of my information came from anecdotes my cousin would tell that she learned from her school. Because of this, I made sure to take Africa American Studies and Africa American History during my college years. Eventually, in my preteen years, I started to notice differences between races such as bi-racial people. I also learned about the Afro-Latin community and their culture. Essentially, I learned how amazing it was and is to be a Black woman in America! Now as an adult Black woman, or Woman of color, I have decided to further educate myself in the history of my people. I encourage you to do the same.
Take some time to learn ways to celebrate Juneteenth. Not sure how to do that? Here’s a hint, celebrate the same as you would on any other holiday- with family, friends, and food! I would also try shopping at and supporting Black Owned businesses and establishments. Help our community to rebuild, or to build, generational wealth. Give resources about financial literacy to People of Color (POC) that may need such information. Because, after all the fireworks and BBQs are gone, we still have a long way to go yet to reach our fullest potential as a group.
Here are other examples of things to do. Simply Google your city and state and find out what and where they are hosting Juneteenth festivals or events. Here’s few for consideration…
- Chicago: Chance the Rapper’s Juneteenth – BBQ at the DuSable museum.
- Atlanta: Parade & Music Festival
- Houston: Houston Juneteenth Unbranded Takeover
You can always create your own annual event for you, your family, and friends too!
Google Black inventors and see all the amazing things that were created by Black Americans. Some examples to get you started:
- Garrett Morgan: Inventor of the Three-Position Traffic Signal and the Gas Mask; saved countless lives.
- Jesse Russell: Pioneer in the field of cellular and wireless communications.
And my personal favorite…
- George Crum: Inventor (unintentionally) created the potato chip during the summer of 1853.
Final words: Find something local in your city or state and make this your annual celebration!
Peace and many Blessings! Enjoy!
Happy JUNETEENTH, from my family to yours!