Juneteenth commemorates the day slaves in Texas learned they were free — June 19, 1865, two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the Civil War ended.
Black and allied voices who worked to get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday were finally heard. On June 17, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially marking June 19 as a federal holiday.
"Juneteenth marks both a long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and the promise of a brighter morning to come," Biden said from the White House. "This is a day, in my view, of profound weight and profound power. A day in which we remember the moral stain, terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take."
So, how do you observe Juneteenth? Celebrations vary across the nation, with Texas, of course, having some of the most grand, but there’s one overall way for everyone to celebrate: Rejoice in Black culture with loved ones.
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Here are 20 ideas for fun ways for families with kids of all ages to celebrate:
June is also Black Music Month.
1. Give a listen to Roy Ayers’ album, JID002 (Jazz Is Dead 002) — Ayers is known as the "Godfather of Neo Soul."
2. Gather the family to watch the Juneteenth episode of "Young Dylan" on Nick on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
3. Explore Spotify’s Black Music Month playlists (in settings, you can turn off explicit content).
4. Teach the kids about freedom songs and spirituals, like “We Shall Overcome,” “Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round,” and “Wade in the Water.”
5. Learn the basics of Black music from the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
6. Buy Dr. Arlisha Norwood’s children’s book, Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A.
7. Check out the list of books, authors and illustrators that won Coretta Scott King awards for excellence in Black children’s literature.
8. Explore The Conscious Kid’s collection of Juneteenth books.
9. Take a look at the assortment of books about black girlhood on A Mighty Girl.
10. Search through thousands of free reading guides for Black children’s and young adult books on Teaching Books.
Several streaming platforms are currently highlighting their offerings of Black interest.
11. Watch “Soul!” on Tubi TV for free, and enjoy late ‘60s and early ‘70s interviews and performances from Black legends including Muhammad Ali, Stokely Carmichael and the members of Earth, Wind & Fire.
12. Enjoy Nickelodeon’s 1995 classic “My Brother and Me,” a wholesome yet funny show about a Black middle class family living in Charlotte, N.C.
13. Prepare a child to attend an HBCU by watching “A Different World,” a ‘90s NBC sitcom about college students attending a fictional historically Black college, Hillman.
14. Check out “Gullah Gullah Island,” an early ‘90s Nick Jr. sing-along show about a Gullah family living on the South Carolina Sea Islands with their huge frog friend, Binyah Binyah.
15. Take a look at “The Proud Family,” an early 2000s Disney cartoon about a Black girl in her early teens, Penny Proud, her family and her friends.
The Black table is the best place.
16. Support local Black-owned restaurants; here are ways to find some near you.
17. Try one of these 43 Juneteenth recipes, from Devil's food cake to Al Roker's skillet cornbread two ways.
18. Search on social media for local Black-owned restaurant information groups, like Where Black NOLA Eats in New Orleans on Facebook.
19. Buy the “Southern Creole” E-cookbook from Black chef and “Chopped” champion Kenneth Temple.
This story was first published in 2020 and has been updated.