June 19th or “Juneteenth” is a very important day in American history. Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day,” is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
This holiday is considered the “longest-running African-American holiday” and has been called “America’s second Independence Day.” It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were free. Prior to this date, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, freed enslaved people, but, the enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied on the advancement of the Union Troops. As Texas was the most remote state in the former Confederacy, enforcement had been slow and inconsistent until June 19, 1865.
Now, more than 150 years later, Juneteenth is a national holiday, and communities are holding bigger and bigger festivals to celebrate and honor Black history. Are you wondering how to celebrate with your family? Read below for some ideas!
The Smithsonian Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, to honor Juneteenth suggests making a poster or writing in a journal about what changes you would like to see in your community. You could try using building blocks to illustrate the changes. While you are building with blocks talk about if you have a park close by or if you need a park to safely play outside. Or maybe you need a grocery store closer to your house so you build a grocery store. There are several ways you can talk about improving the community while you play and talk about where you live.
Go to a Juneteenth celebration! Rochester has a celebration planned on Saturday, June 18th with food, entertainers, and local businesses. Go join the celebration and learn about more businesses in Rochester and who you can support.
[ID: A red, black, green, and yellow flyer from the Rochester NAACP announcing the Rochester Juneteenth 2022 Celebration.
Saturday June 18th 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
The Rochester Branch of the NAACP invites the community to join us for the 17th Annual Juneteenth Celebration which is being held in conjunction with Rochesterfest. Saturday, June 18th 12 PM - 5 PM at the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
The Rochester Branch of the NAACO under the banner of Rochester Juneteenth Celebration, Inc, has been hosting Juneteenth since 2005. Join us for a fantastic fun filled family event with the community, sponsors, and community collaborators.
Go to Juneteenth.day to learn about Juneteenth
Become a sponsor or signup for booth at naacprochestermn.org/juneteenth]
Another way to celebrate Juneteenth is to support a Black-owned business here in Rochester. Many will be at the Juneteenth celebration, but are there any stores or restaurants you already like to visit? Make an extra stop to support them this month.
When buying or checking out books about Juneteenth, look for books written or sold by Black authors. Support these authors, businesses, and their families. The National Museum of African American History and Culture recommends the following books to learn about Juneteenth history and celebrations.
[ID: This Juneteenth read the recommended books below with your little one to learn more about the holiday, guide discussions about slavery and freedom, celebrate change and think about ways to stand up for justice today.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom
by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson
by Carol Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
Juneteenth for Maize
by Floyd Cooper
Love Twelve Miles Long
by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Colin Bootman
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott
Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride
by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie
A Sweet Smell of Roses
by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Freedom, We Sing
by Amyra Leon, illustrated by Molly Mendoza
Our Children Can Soar
by Michelle Cook
Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America
by Emily Easton, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
Logo: National Museum of African American History and Culture]
Another important way to celebrate Juneteenth is by talking about the history of slavery in the United States. Not sure where to begin? Start by telling a story:
“The United States has been around for a long time and a lot of hard work was put into creating the country we live in today. A lot of that work such as building buildings and tending fields came from enslaved people, specifically African Americans and Black Americans. They were brought to the United States from their home countries by white people for free labor. It was not until June 19th, 1865 that the remaining enslaved people in Texas were told they had been freed.”
Talking with children about the history of the country helps them understand why this Black Independence Day is a time to celebrate as it was the first step toward equality This step toward freedom and equal treatment was just the beginning and Black Americans have been fighting for equity ever since. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate resilience and bravery.
Talking about the history of the United States, slavery, and Juneteenth is important but make sure you aren’t limiting Black history to slavery. There is a rich history and culture before, during, and after slavery all of which are to be celebrated and learned about. Juneteenth is a time to celebrate Emancipation Day, but also a time to recognize there is still work to be done toward equity, freedom, and inclusion.
Are you concerned your child is too young to talk about slavery? The typical age where it is better understood and isn’t scary is six years old, but don’t let that stop you from learning and celebrating. If your child is younger, the University of Pittsburgh’s article “How to Talk to Children about Juneteenth” has a good model.
Take the day on Sunday, June 19th to celebrate, honor, and learn about Black American culture, resilience, and bravery. The country we live in wouldn’t be the same without their skill, knowledge, and labor over the history of the United States.
Information Collected From:
National Museum of African American History and Culture, https://nmaahc.si.edu/juneteenth
Juneteenth Website, https://www.juneteenth.com/
University of Pittsburgh, https://www.pitt.edu/pittwire/features-articles/how-talk-children-about-juneteenth
How Stuff Works Website, https://history.howstuffworks.com/american-civil-war/juneteeth.htm
Rochester Branch NAACP, Https://www.naacprochestermn.org/