Juneteenth. It is the unsung holiday celebrating the emancipation of black people. Celebrations began in Texas and spread across the country. At the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions sparked. As a result, many African-Americans were intentional about commemorating Juneteenth instead of July 4th. The support of black-owned businesses shot through the roof. Parades, family gatherings and peaceful marches for racial equality were a few activities people engaged in. Last year’s celebrations of black independence were great in number. It brought new meaning to the phrase “I’m black and I’m proud.” But, how long will it last? Has this holiday become a newfound tradition for black people? If so, what are some traditions that must be incorporated to keep the significance of this day at the forefront of American history?
- Consistently educate your children about the significance of Juneteenth. History books have taught many fallacies about who people of color are. Let us continue to unapologetically change this narrative by learning the truth of black history.
- Practice some traditional Juneteenth celebrations. Prepare or purchase a soul food meal. Researcher and sing Negro spiritual. Reconnect with family. No matter what you do, make sure it enhances your knowledge of what this day means.
- Create new traditions. Decorate your home with colors that represent Juneteenth. Watch movies or documentaries about slavery. Read and research new information about your heritage. Visit a museum (virtual or in-person) that is saturated with the truth of black history.
June is a month filled with celebrations. Graduations, weddings and Father’s Day. It also marks the beginning of summer. It is easy to see how Juneteenth can be overlooked. However, we as a people must be intentional about making this holiday visible. Our efforts must be purposeful so this day will not fade to black. In order to be consistent with our efforts, we must begin celebrating this day well before June. Here is how we can do it:
- Make sure our children learn about it in school. Reach out to educators and propose they teach about in the upcoming school year.
- Begin planning your celebrations well in advance. For many years, people have planned events and even their wardrobe around July 4th. Why can’t we put the same effort into Juneteenth? If you do not have any plans this year, start planning next year.
- Take the holiday seriously. Take some time to research what Juneteenth means. Not just to African-Americans, but to America.
- Support black-owned businesses beyond this day. There are so many businesses owned by people of color. We need to be sure they stay in business.
- Let us work to give Juneteenth the same respect as July 4th. Work with your local and state representatives to have Juneteenth recognized in the same capacity.
If this holiday is to remain an American tradition we must work together to make it so. Juneteenth is a day that must be highly regarded. It represents more than the freedom of African-Americans. It represents the continuation of the story of a nation.
Liz Lampkin is a Lifestyle, Love and Relationship writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin.