While some are just learning about the significance of Juneteenth, it has been a widely celebrated day since June 19th, 1865. It is liberation day—the day every man and woman in the United States became free. You may be wondering, “didn’t everyone become free after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two years prior in 1863?” And the answer to that would be a simple no. In many states, the news broke when it occurred, but specifically in Galveston, Texas the news of liberation would not come for two and a half years.
When the news did reach them, there was disbelief and celebration. Many formerly enslaved people left to find family members and to start establishing themselves in new cities. Yearly celebrations of liberation would include barbecues and dressing in beautiful clothing since during their enslavement they would not be allowed to dress in this way. It's beautiful to see so many of these traditions carried through to today and become a part of African American culture.
Today celebrations have grown and participants use it as a day to rejoice, share a meal, watch performances, go to a parade or street fair, and honor and grow their knowledge of African American history and culture.
You can celebrate by reading about Black history and achievements, supporting Black owned businesses, and by teaching your children about these events.