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How to celebrate Juneteenth: 5 ways to honor the holiday with family and friends

Including local events, kid-friendly activities and other creative ideas.

Juneteenth is a cause for celebration.

The holiday, also called Emancipation Day and Jubilee Day, celebrates the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom — even though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior.

Although Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1866, it wasn’t recognized as a federal holiday until June 2021 when President Joe Biden signed it into law.

“This is a day, in my view, of profound weight and profound power,” Biden said during the signing ceremony at the White House. “A day in which we remember the moral stain, terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take.”

Since Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, many schools, businesses and government buildings will be closed on Monday, June 20. If you're looking for something to do, you're in luck because we’ve rounded up all the best ways to celebrate Juneteenth, whether virtually or in person.

Take a look at all of the events happening in the United States, along with other meaningful ways to observe the holiday with family and friends.

Attend Juneteenth parades and events

Since Juneteenth has become widely recognized, more events have been popping up around the country. If you live in New York, Texas, PennsylvaniaKentucky and Georgia, then you're in for a treat because there will be plenty of events throughout the weekend.

Here are some popular Juneteenth events happening in 2022:

Hundreds of people attend the Juneteenth Celebration at Fairmount Park in Riverside on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
Hundreds of people attend the Juneteenth Celebration at Fairmount Park in Riverside on Saturday, June 19, 2021.Terry Pierson / The Press-Enterprise / Getty Images

Get your grub on

It isn't Juneteenth until you chow down on some good soul food, the ethnic cuisine prepared by African Americans. This type of cooking came out of necessity when enslaved people no choice but to prepare meals with inexpensive ingredients and limited supplies.

Once African Americans gained their freedom, staples of the past, including catfish and red soda water, became revered. As time went on, soul food took on a whole new meaning. Now, a typical soul food meal consists of fried meats, hearty side dishes and sweet drinks like lemonade.

While you can always spend Juneteenth whipping up some inspired recipes, you might want to leave it up to the pros. In that case, head to your local Black-owned restaurant for a delicious meal.

Shop Black-owned businesses

Black-owned companies have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic and could greatly use your help.

Forbes learned that Black-owned businesses fell 41% between February and April 2020, and if they were able to stay open, then an August 2020 survey found that it would be incredibly hard for them to remain profitable.

This Juneteenth, take stock of what you need and consider buying exclusively from Black-owned food, beauty and kidswear brands. Check out The Nile List and similar directories to find a range of businesses to shop from.

While you're at it, support Black authors, musicians and artists too. Because your dollar can really go a long way.

Learn more about Black culture

Set aside the day to dive even deeper into the past, present and future of Black culture. Take a trip to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois, or the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York.

But if that doesn't interest you, then you can always round up your closest family and friends for a movie night.

Press play on films shining a light on Black talent, like "Alice" with Keke Palmer or "Emergency" directed by Carey Williams. Not only are these movies incredibly entertaining, but they'll also provoke important conversations.

Members of Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church march to celebrate Juneteenth on June 19, 2021 in Galveston, Texas.
Members of Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church march to celebrate Juneteenth on June 19, 2021 in Galveston, Texas.Go Nakamura / Getty Images

Get the kids involved

It's never too early to start teaching your kids about the importance of Juneteenth. Round up a bunch of Juneteenth-inspired crafts, so they can learn by doing. Help them make the Juneteenth Pan-African flag by glueing popsicle sticks together and coloring them with red, black and green markers, just like the blogger behind Crafting a Fun Life did here.

Another idea: Jot down different Black leaders' names on pieces of paper, stick them in a bowl and ask your kids to pick a name to learn about their impact. You can also sprinkle in a few Juneteenth quotes for good measure.