Juneteenth

Juneteenth Celebrations and Traditions

History

Juneteenth just became a federal holiday last year. What many people don’t know is that Juneteenth has existed for a long time. Juneteenth has existed for over 100 years, and it has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980. So, Juneteenth is a significant holiday for Black people with a long history. The first Juneteenth was June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas. The holiday celebrates the end of slavery for Black people in the United States when 2,000 Union soldiers arrived and declared that the enslaved people were now free. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, and people celebrate the holiday in many different ways.

Celebrations and Traditions

Food is an important part of every Juneteenth celebration. People love to eat, and people love to be together. So, naturally people love to celebrate by eating together. On Juneteenth, people commonly eat Red Velvet cakes and drink red drinks. Some say that this is because the red represents the blood of enslaved ancestors. Others say that we consume red food and drinks because “enslavement narratives from Texas recall an African ancestor being lured using red flannel cloth, and many of the charms and power objects used to manipulate invisible forces required a red handkerchief” and red is a symbol of strength in many West African cultures. It is also common to celebrate Juneteenth by hosting BBQs or cookouts and eating soul food. Soul Food includes many dishes such as macaroni and cheese, cornbread, collard greens, fried chicken, baked beans and many more. Getting together to eat, drink, and light fireworks on Juneteenth is fun but some people like to do more. Some people like to celebrate Juneteenth by buying from Black-owned businesses and learning about Black history. People also celebrate by watching Black movies like “Do the Right Thing,” “Black Panther,” and “The Wiz” and listening to Black musicians and artists such as Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Frankie Beverly. Juneteenth is not just a celebration of Black people’s freedom, it is a celebration of Black people’s culture, too.

Culture

Black people continue to create and innovate despite facing constant discrimination. Black people have influenced and changed American art, music, fashion, film, comedy, food, and literature. American culture would be nothing without its Black writers, directors, actors, artists, designers, comedians, and musicians. Music is a great example of the enormous impact that Black Culture has on the world. Black people created America’s most popular and influential music genres such as Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B, Soul, Gospel, Jazz, Blues, and Rock & Roll. Black Visionaries such as Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Duke Ellington, and James Brown changed America. So, Black people have a lot to celebrate. Juneteenth is a celebration of Black people’s freedom, culture, and success despite the obstacles we face.

Sources

Cherelus, Gina. “This Is How We Juneteenth.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-celebration-history.html. 

Djossa, Christina Ayele. “The Story behind Red-Hued Juneteenth Food and Drink.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 17 June 2021, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-juneteenth.

Macaya, Melissa. “June 17, 2021 Juneteenth Becomes a Federal Holiday.” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 June 2021, https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/biden-signs-juneteenth-bill/index.html.

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