Interested in learning more about Juneteenth? Here are 5 ways to celebrate this historic, inspirational holiday as a family.
What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is an American holiday commemorating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in our country. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, under Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Texas — the last state to emancipate — with news that the war was over and that enslaved people were, in fact, free. Originally a Texas state holiday, Juneteenth is now celebrated annually throughout the United States by people of all races and backgrounds.
Here are 5 ways to celebrate with your family:
1 – Have a video story time!
All Different Now | Age Preschool+
Check out this read-aloud of All Different Now by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Listen to the end for poignant letters from the author and illustrator, as well as a wonderful history of Juneteenth!
Henry’s Freedom Box | Grades 2nd+
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights presents a reading of Henry’s Freedom Box by Kadir Nelson and Ellen Levine in celebration of Juneteenth and in recognition of black self-liberation during enslavement. Prior to the reading, Jasmine Page, Education Programs Coordinator, provides a brief discussion about black self-liberation, how this form of resistance influenced the 1950’s Civil Rights Movement, and how we can see this work being done today.
2 – Create a Juneteenth Feast
This idea comes from NCCS’s own Kadesha Adelakun, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor at The Journey Counseling Services. Kadesha is having a red-food feast with her own family to celebrate Juneteenth, serving red soda, red velvet cupcakes, and watermelon. Her family is finishing the day with fireworks!
Red foods — a symbol of the resilience and ingenuity of enslaved people — are customary on a Juneteenth table. In addition to Kadesha’s ideas above, you could include barbecue, hot dogs, strawberries, red juice, cherries or cherry pie. And we wouldn’t hold it against you if mouth-watering soul foods find a place into your Juneteenth feast: collards, fried chicken, mac-n-cheese … yummmm. Include your children in planning the menu, discussing the symbolism behind the meal. They could even make Juneteenth placemats for everyone, using the coloring sheet below …
3 – Make Juneteenth Decorations
Learn more about this holiday by getting crafty! Get out construction paper or crayons and markers, and make your own Juneteenth flag, following the image above. Or, download a Juneteenth flag coloring sheet.
The meaning behind the Juneteenth flag:
The Star | Stands for Texas, the Lone Star State, where, in 1865, Union soldiers informed the country’s last remaining enslaved people that they were free. The star also represents the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states.
The Burst | The bursting outline around the star is inspired by a nova — a new star — and represents a new beginning for all African Americans.
The Arc | The curve across the width of the flag stands for new horizons — the promise and opportunities that lay ahead for Black Americans.
The Colors | Red, white and blue echo the American flag — reinforcing that freed slaves and all their descendants to come were and are Americans.
4 – Join an Atlanta Event or Movement!
OneRace | The OneRace Movement in Atlanta seeks to “decry racism in every form, and declare unity from the church across lines of race, class, denomination, and culture. We want the world to see a demonstration from the Church of truth & love, demanding that the story change for the generations to come.” Find out more and get involved!
Juneteenth Takeover | Power Haus Creative has organized 19 of Atlanta’s finest creators to take over the historic Flatiron building, FlatironCity, in Downtown Atlanta. Mask up and join the event on Friday, June 19, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. as they transform the building into an outdoor gallery exhibition celebrating Black Independence. The exhibit will be up until Monday, June 22.
5 – Participate in a Virtual Community Day
Check out The Amistad Center for Art + Culture | This year, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is pleased to bring you a virtual Juneteenth Community Day Celebration. Learn about rich African American traditions and culture through art, storytelling, music, and dance!