5 ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year
This week, Americans across the country will celebrate Juneteenth, the day more than a century and a half ago that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were finally told they were free.
The day has been celebrated by the African-American community for more than a century as America’s second independence day. There’s been renewed interest in Juneteenth after George Floyd’s murder, the countless other Black people affected by police violence, and nationwide protests calling for justice.
If you’ve never celebrated Juneteenth before, here are some ways to honor and celebrate freedom, equality and Black history.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865 — two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, rode to Galveston to notify enslaved people that the Civil War had ended and they were now free. The name is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is also known as “Emancipation Day,” “Freedom Day,” and “Liberation Day.” Here’s a history of Juneteenth from Vox to learn more.
Support Black-owned businesses
The pandemic has been tough for so many small businesses across the country, and Black-owned small businesses have been hit especially hard.
Our allies at Color of Change created the “Black Business Green Book,” a site where you can search Black-owned small businesses by state or keyword, or browse by a number of categories, including Health/Wellness, Food & Drink, Home Goods and more.
You can also check out our curated list to support Black-owned businesses every month from this February.
Protect the right to vote
Today, the right to vote, especially for Black Americans, is under threat. More than 350 voter suppression bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, and so far, according to our allies at the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 14 states have enacted 22 laws that are designed to make it harder to vote. Many of these laws will suppress the vote in Black communities
Our partners at Fair Fight Action and Black Voters Matter are doing some incredible work to protect voting rights, especially in the wake of these voter suppression attempts. Learn how you can get involved and volunteer with these two amazing organizations.
Visit locations that celebrate Black culture and history
Take some time to learn more about Black culture and history this Juneteenth. Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis or the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. Fodor’s has curated a list of 15 “unmissable” Black history museums, too.
If you don’t have a venue near you that celebrates Black history (or you’d rather not visit in person), the New York Public Library offers a virtual archive of podcasts, audio recordings, videos and vast digital collections to enjoy.
Advocate to make Juneteenth a national holiday
Juneteenth isn’t a national holiday, yet, but it should be. In 1980, Texas became the first state in the nation to make Juneteenth a state holiday, and since then, nearly every state recognizes the holiday in some form.
The movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday is gaining steam. On June 15, the Senate unanimously passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, legislation to recognize the day federally, and now the bill heads to the House. Urge your representative to pass this important bill by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or by emailing your member of Congress here.
Follow the work of our allies
Since 1985, CREDO has donated more than $25 million to our allies who are fighting for civil rights, equality and voting rights.
This month, open up your social media accounts and email inboxes to keep up with the important work of some of our allies who are doing critical work to honor Black culture and history and working to protect communities of color and the right to vote. Here are just a few:
- Color of Change
- Black Voters Matter
- Fair Fight Action
- Zinn Education Project
- Brennan Center for Justice
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Learn more about our donations program and vote for this month’s grantees at CREDODonations.com.