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How to Celebrate Juneteenth as an Ally

Juneteenth celebration in Los Angeles
Photo by WTTW

Juneteenth – also known as Emancipation day – is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States, originating in 1865. Juneteenth was finally recognized as a federal holiday on June 18, 2021, yet its mainstream popularity had increased tremendously over the two years prior.  So let’s talk about Juneteenth’s history, meaning, and ways we can celebrate!

 

What is Juneteenth?

What exactly is Juneteenth? When Union General Gordon Granger ordered to free all slaves in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865, this wasn’t the first slave emancipation. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation itself took place two-and-a-half years prior. But the word of slavery ending traveled slowly, and those who were isolated from Union armies continued to live without freedom. This was the case in Texas as the majority of slaves were not aware of freedom until General Granger’s June 19th announcement. Once the news broke and Black people were finally conscious of their freedom, the uproar of positive shock and celebration was electric. Today, June 19th is recognized as “Juneteenth” and marks a distinct date freed people could commemorate the complete abolishment of slavery.

 

Why do we celebrate?

Today, we celebrate Juneteenth both as a historical honoring of slave emancipation and as a day to strive for equality. But in addition to a celebration, Juneteenth also stands as a reminder of how freedom and justice has always been delayed for Black people and continues to be a prevalent issue in modern society. Juneteenth is a day to reflect, learn, and grow as a nation to push for a more equitable tomorrow.

Black owned business support
Photo by Chicago Sun Times

How to celebrate Juneteenth

Support Black-owned businesses

One easy thing you can do to show your support for the Black community is through shopping from Black-owned businesses. If you or a loved one has a birthday or celebration coming up, check out Presently’s Approved Retailer List for a compilation of Black-owned businesses to support. You can also look for Black-owned restaurants in your area through EatOkra.

 

Support Black Creators 

Black voices have frequently been diminished and silenced in pop culture. Show your support by embracing the content put out by talented Black creators.

Put together a playlist of your favorite Black artists on platforms like Tidal or Napster, which give higher commission rates to artists. In a rush? Check out these premade playlists on Spotify to expand your music knowledge: indie by Black artists, Black History Month, and Black artists only.

You can also enjoy movies and shows with Black leads, or follow some of today’s most inspirational Black activists and writers such as James Rucker (co-founder of Color of Change), Opal Tometi (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), and Roxane Gay.

Emancipation day in Richmond, Virginia
Photo by The Incline

Educate yourself on Black history

Education is always a great place to start when searching for the best ways to be an ally. Check out this Juneteenth reading list, or if you’re an audible learner, listen to podcasts like Intersectionality Matters! from The African American Policy Forum and more. Movie buff? Watch 13th, Just Mercy, and I Am Not Your Negro.

You can also take advantage of the summer sun and plan a museum trip! If you want to explore virtually, check out BLKFREEDOM.org. On June 15th, ten museums of African American culture and history from all across the country will join forces to commemorate Juneteenth virtually.

Another great way to educate yourself is through engaging with the community around you. Organize an anti-racism reading or a watching group to discuss what you’re learning with family and friends.

 

Donate 

Supporting organizations such as Black Girls Code, Loveland Foundation, and these charities help in the continuous fight for racial justice, equality, and equity. Need some help gathering funds? Invite family and friends to participate using Presently! Just pick your favorite foundation or charity, and with a few clicks, organize a group gift to raise money that you can send to the organization directly. This is a great way to come together with loved ones to raise more money than you could on your own. After all, we’re better together!

 

Celebrate year-round

While we hope you celebrate and honor Juneteenth this month, let’s make sure to not stop there. Year-round, we all should continue to educate ourselves, support Black businesses and creators, and redistribute funds to worthy causes to start to create meaningful and long-lasting change within our communities.


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Author
Elise Hogan, Jieun Song, Meg Mallozzi
Blog
Presently