Considered the longest running African-American holiday, Juneteenth Day celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Texas to declare all enslaved people free.
Although it had been over two years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months since the Civil War ended in defeat for the South, Texas hadn’t changed much. Many slaveholders had fled there during the war. It was a haven for them.
Even after the June 19th announcement, emancipation didn’t happen right away. Authorities postponed official action until after harvest season ended. Regardless, word spread, and scattered celebrations were held. Later that year, the 13th Amendment officially abolished slavery.
Starting on June 19, 1866, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas.
This was still a dangerous time for formerly enslaved people and many celebrated freedom at great risk. Therefore, it’s amazing that at this time of turmoil, a grassroots movement of recently freed people rallied around this idea, determined to commemorate it.
This included prayer and church gatherings. Songs of jubilation. Freed people wore bright, colorful and new clothes to fully represent their freedom.
In the years that followed, an idea that started in Galveston, Texas caught on. As Black Americans made their way around the country, word of this holiday spread. Within a few years, it became an annual tradition not only in the United States but all over the world.
Family celebrations on Juneteenth Day
For many, Juneteenth Day is time off to spend with family and friends. These are some of the most popular ways to spend the day:
- Prayer and religious services
- Rallies with speeches or testimonials
- Educational events
- Music, food and dancing festivals
- Cookouts and barbecues
Parents want their children to understand the history behind Juneteenth Day. This is a good opportunity to discuss slavery, its aftermath and the bravery of formerly enslaved people to celebrate this anniversary every year. Especially at a time when it was dangerous to do so.
Other ways to observe Juneteenth Day
- Watch a movie or television show to celebrate this day of freedom.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
- Donate to supportive organizations.
- Attend an official event near you.
- Call a local service organization that serves marginalized communities. They often have volunteer opportunities all year, but especially around the month of June.
- Read fun and informative books either together or separately and discuss.
- Spread the word on social media. Get #juneteenthday trending!
No matter how you choose to celebrate with your family, everyone here at KidzToPros wishes you a safe and healthy Juneteenth Day.