All Eyes on Juneteenth

With the widespread adoption of social media like TikTok and Instagram, Black voices are now easier to hear than ever. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that the celebration of Juneteenth was finally acknowledged in mainstream American culture and made a federal holiday as recently as 2020 (and yes…this was long overdue).

Kids these days are observing cultural happenings – riots, murders, unrest – and instead of watching helplessly, they’re posting about it. They’re blacking out their pages in solidarity. They’re protesting in any way they can.

On June 19th, 1865, a month after the end of the bloodiest war in American history, a monumental order was given in Galveston Texas. The final holdout state to abolish slavery, Texas became a place of pilgrimage accepting descendants of free people even today.

The abolition of slavery took many forms on several days in the previous months, culminating in joyous celebrations called Jubilees. Food was cooked, dances were performed, hugs and kisses were exchanged, and the path to freedom and equality was set upon.

Make no mistake – the transition wasn’t simple. Freed slaves weren’t allowed to congregate in some states, leading to a movement in Texas to pool money to purchase land to celebrate peacefully. Freed people raised $1,000 to purchase 10 acres of land for that purpose, and Emancipation Park still stands today.

Juneteenth (a hybrid of the words June and Nineteenth) is considered the longest-running African American holiday, and has been celebrated as America’s “Second Independence Day”. It’s celebrated as far south as Mexico, where the ancestors of an Afro-Indian group still live following their flight from the south to avoid bondage in the 1850s.

The increased awareness and visibility have taken many forms. Juneteenth serves as a celebratory way for the Black community to embrace and perpetuate their history and culture. The younger generation is encouraged to immerse themselves in their traditions and foster a deep sense of community.

Juneteenth can be celebrated by people of every color. While focused on Black history and culture, it draws participants from all walks of life to partake in the festivities of food, dance, song, poetry, and more. At some of these festivals you can partake in learning more about Black culture from a variety of vantage points, immersing yourself in celebration and appreciation in a variety of ways.

It’s also important to remember that while Juneteenth is technically a 1-day celebration, these are matters of cultural importance year-round.

Our kids have spoken…they’re working to become better allies to the community, and honoring this rich tradition with or without you. You joining?

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