Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth (June 19th) marks the day the last slaves were freed in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1963, the Civil War made it difficult to spread the news of slaves’ freedom to the southern states. Texas was the most remote of all the slave states, so it was the last to hear news of the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19th, 1865 Union army general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to declare the end to slavery and immediate freedom of all slaves. 250,000 slaves were freed from Texas that day, marking for the first time, independence for all Americans.
Here are some Juneteenth activities and resources to help you and your kiddos celebrate this momentous day in our history!
Children’s books about Juneteenth:
Videos to teach children about Juneteenth:
Other ways to celebrate Juneteenth:
- Family Feast
According to The Daily Texan, a traditional Juneteenth celebration isn’t complete without a barbecue. This includes brisket, chicken wings, ribs, and pork chops. Next on the menu is collard greens and sweet potatoes. Another Juneteenth staple? Red soda and watermelon. According to the article, red is a color that is seen everywhere during Juneteenth. It is symbolic of the blood lost during the struggle for emancipation or the hibiscus tea that was frequently drunk by slaves during celebrations, depending on who you talk to. According to Ronald Myers, head of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, “watermelon and red soda water are the oldest traditional foods on Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth: A Celebration Of Resilience
Join the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a virtual event including presentations, stories, photographs, and recipes from the Sweet Home Café. The event is free and will be going on all day. Click here to learn more.
- Storytelling and Folktales
Whether you’re a lifelong folklore devotee, or just discovering the rich breadth of stories African American mythologies have to offer, take a look at this cultivated reading list to get up to speed on every kind of boo hag, br’er creature, obayifo, and tar baby there is.
- African Dance
Immerse yourself in African culture with this 5-minute dance lesson!