On June 19, 1865, a big step towards progress and change was made. Major General Granger of the U.S Army announced the freedom of enslaved people in the city of Galveston, Texas two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. Now, more than 150 years later, the unofficial holiday which has a major cause for celebration has made its presence known, and states like Virginia and New York are posing legislature to make it an official government holiday. While other states will surely follow suit, companies nationwide have taken it into their own hands to declare Juneteenth as a necessary holiday and are offering paid time to employees, or time-and-a-half if they do work, to commemorate. Dax Ellison, Social Fuel Customer Liaison for Homes.com, is looking forward to using this day as an opportunity to advocate for those around him. “It means so much to me that my employer supports celebrating Juneteenth, and I can’t wait to use this day to advocate in my community for Black lives,” Ellison states. So, if you’re wondering how you can best celebrate this holiday while practicing safe physical distancing guidelines, here are three ways you can commemorate Juneteenth in your community.
Volunteer Programs that Benefit the Black Community
If you’re interested in local community action, then volunteering could be a great way to support Black communities this coming Juneteenth. “Right now, Juneteenth needs to be celebrated with active education and active participation. Children, parents, people, and corporations can donate, volunteer with programs that benefit the Black community, and support Black-owned businesses,” says Tremaine Etheridge, Salesperson with Homes.com. If you’re eager to get out there and volunteer in your community, you can find local organizations via VolunteerMatch, Facebook Events, or a quick Google search. If you’re having a difficult time finding places to volunteer, looking for peaceful protests you can participate in as well. These can also be found through Facebook events or your local Black Lives Matter organization. See a full list of official Black Lives Matter chapters across the nation here.
Create Educational Moments
If you have kids or other family members at home who could be further educated about Black history and want to celebrate Juneteenth with them, try to use this time as a way to create educational moments on the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and anti-racist beliefs. In an interview with TODAY, Denver-based Psychotherapist, Annette Nunez, says, “If we brush it under the carpet, the message we are giving to our children [and family] is racism doesn’t exist, races don’t exist. Racism does exist… it’s really important to talk about it.” If you want to initiate the conversation with your family, try using some of these resources:
Use books like “You Matter” or “Antiracist Baby” to help guide the conversation for younger kids. For young adults, Ibram X. Kendi also wrote the bestseller, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.” Or, if you want to educate yourself and others, “So You Want to Talk About Racism” is another great book written by Ijeoma Oluo.
Online Tips from Experts
Use these tips from Dr. Aisha White, Director of the P.R.I.D.E Program, who interviewed with PBS about talking honestly with your child about racism. Or, if you don’t have a child and are a young adult who wants to have an honest discussion with your parents, use tips from NPR’s session with Ijeoma Oluo titled “Want To Have Better Conversations About Racism With Your Parents? Here’s How.”
Movies and Media
Show young children movies like “The Color of Friendship,” and “Akeelah and The Bee,” short films like “Hair Love,” or Sesame Street’s YouTube videos highlighting race and racism. For older audiences, or if you’re comfortable showing to your younger kids, try the “13th,” “When They See Us,” or “Seven Seconds” which are all available on Netflix.
Donate to Organizations
If you’re not quite comfortable with leaving your home to volunteer or protest, then there are other routes you can take to celebrate Juneteenth appropriately. Finding and donating to credible organizations that provide education on civil rights, help abolish systemic racism, or support Black communities is a good way to give back. Here are some national charities and organizations you can support not just for Juneteenth, but year-round.
- The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s home to artifacts and other historically significant exhibits that showcase the Civil Rights Movement and the lasting impacts it’s had on our country.
- The Equal Justice Initiative is a non-profit organization based out of Montgomery, Alabama that focuses on criminal justice reformation and racial injustices in today’s society.
- The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is a non-profit legal organization that aims to fight racial injustices through litigation and education.
- The Brotherhood/Sister Sol program is a local, New York-based organization with national reach that focuses on youth development for children and young adults ages 8 to 22.
No matter your race, it’s important to use this day as a time to educate those around you. “Commemorating Juneteenth as a national holiday would serve as an important reminder that racial slavery and the Black Americans who helped end this system of bondage have been imprinted on the soul of this nation,” says Mashonda Askew, a Social Media Customer Service Representative of Homes.com. Because, while Juneteenth should be celebrated in communities everywhere, progression still needs to be made every day, and there’s no better time to educate others than June 19.