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Juneteenth: A History, Celebrations, and Resources

June 16, 2021

Juneteenth: A History, Celebrations, and Resources

June 16, 2021
June 16, 2021

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

In America, we typically celebrate July 4th, 1776 as Independence Day – but it wasn’t until almost 100 years later on June 19th, 1865 that many Americans were truly free. That day celebrates Juneteenth – also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day for Black Americans.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth marks the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation ending the practice of slavery was signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The proclamation made clear “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states fighting in the civil war “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Watch the video below from Jesse Jones to learn more about the history of Juneteenth in American Sign Language. If you want more, watch this captioned video by Starr Dunigan from Reckon.

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How is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Celebrations traditionally include picnics, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, blues festivals, and Miss Juneteenth contests.

What can you do to celebrate? Here are some suggestions:

  • Have a cookout – Strawberry soda is a traditional drink associated with the celebration. You can also eat red fruits and desserts like watermelon and red velvet cake.
  • Attend a parade or festival virtually or at a social distance.
  • Read stories by Black authors with your family.
  • Listen to or watch a sermon by Black people.
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How can you teach and celebrate with your kids on Juneteenth? 

Teaching your children about the history of Black America is an essential step to building racial equity and ending racism in our country. Start them out with age appropriate resources. Check out this list featuring picture books for younger children and young adult fiction and nonfiction for your pre-teens or teenagers. You can also find additional family friendly resources and activities to celebrate Juneteenth here.

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Find resources for teachers who want to increase their students’ understanding of Juneteenth.

While Juneteenth is not a federally mandated holiday yet, and often is not included in history books, teachers  are encouraged  to take the time to share information about this important historic event. Check out the links below for resources that can be used in the classroom.

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Looking to dig a little deeper into the history of Juneteenth? Here are some additional articles:

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BLM Resources: Read. Share. Learn. Do.

We hope that you choose to take some time on Juneteenth to celebrate and honor the important history surrounding Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter Movement. If you’d like to learn more about Black Deaf stories and get more actively involved, we encourage you to check out the Black Deaf Center. This website was founded on June 2020 and new resources and stories are added regularly.

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  • Amplify the Movement for Black Lives (MB4L) and their efforts to share resources and services to support Black Lives Matter.
  •  Share and support this list of companies who are supporting #BLM with more than just statements. Here is a group of corporations that have financially supported the Black Lives Matter Movement.
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  • Characteristics of White Supremacy are often built into our culture. To truly make a change we must be able to identify and dismantle these norms. Check out Showing Up for Racial Justice to learn what to look for.
  • The terms privilege and intersectionality have been used a lot in reference to the Black Lives Matter Movement – but do you know what they mean? What CSD Learns’ video for a brief overview in ASL.
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  • Unable to donate? Don’t worry, that’s not the only way to stay involved. Here’s a Twitter thread of other actions you can take.
  • Write to Joshua Williams, who was arrested when he was 18 during the Ferguson Uprising. He’s up for parole in June. Details here.
  • In just 10, 25, or 45 minutes a day you can become more informed about being an active ally to the Black community. Find out how here.
  • Not everyone is able to take to the streets to protest. For those who are still looking to push the #BLM movement forward here are 26 Ways to be in the Struggle, Beyond the Streets.
  • By signing petitions in support of a cause we’re able to show just how important something is to us as a society. Check out this Twitter thread of petitions you can sign in support of #BLM.
  • The systemic issues at hand do not disappear once #BLM is no longer trending. Check out Ways You Can Help on this non-official Black Lives Matter page.
  • Support Black entrepreneurs by purchasing from Black-owned businesses. 
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  • Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates is hosting a virtual Juneteenth event featuring Black Deaf performers, presenters, and business owners on Saturday June 19th from 5-8 p.m. EST. You can join here.
  • This week, Convo’s bi-weekly Hangout will be happening on Thursday instead of Friday. To celebrate Juneteenth, panelists Jazzy Jones, Jose Centeno Mendez, and Desjunae Ross will discuss the importance of the holiday.
  • On Thursday, June 17th, Gallaudet is hosting the webinar Juneteenth: Recognition of Freedom and Celebration. Join to learn how people celebrate the holiday, and participate in an interactive trivia game. Register here.
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