How to Celebrate and Honor Juneteenth and What It Represents as a Family

How to Celebrate Juneteenth - Photo Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight / Getty Images

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, and Kwanzaa are holidays that acknowledge the heritage, history, resilience, and achievement of Black people. So is Juneteenth, which falls on June 19.

Juneteenth celebrates the independence of Black Americans. It is a day to reflect upon their strength in the journey to freedom from slavery. On Juneteenth, people take part in activities that entertain, educate, and empower. Your family may have traditions that help you appreciate the cultural significance of Juneteenth, or the holiday may be new to you, and you want to find ways that you and your kids can observe the day.

Learning more about Juneteenth is a great place to start. Having a greater understanding of its history, along with ways you and your family can celebrate, can help you find your own unique way to honor the day.

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is often referred to as the oldest holiday for African Americans. While freedom from slavery was technically granted prior to Juneteenth, that freedom wasn’t recognized because many slaves didn’t know about it.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War in 1863. This document granted freedom to slaves who were in the southern states, but slaves in Texas didn’t find out that slavery was abolished until June 19, 1865, when troops arrived with the news. That day is when they finally celebrated their freedom.

One year later, celebrations of prayer and singing commemorated the day of freedom. In 1980, Texas made Juneteenth a state holiday. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

The day has evolved into more than a signal of the end of slavery. Now, it’s also a celebration of freedom and the accomplishments of African Americans. It is a day to remember the strength of those who persevered.

When Is It Celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 every year. The day it’s commemorated gives the holiday its name—"June" and "nineteenth" are combined to create Juneteenth.

Additional names for Juneteenth include Black Independence Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation Day.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Juneteenth is symbolic of the freedom African Americans gained from slavery. It represents the resilience it took to survive despite their circumstances. Juneteenth is significant because it gives Black people a voice for all of the injustice and cruelty of slavery, and the ability to overcome and succeed in spite of it. It’s their specific day of liberty.

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth

A day of liberty is cause for celebration! People of every nationality can take part in celebrating African Americans’ day of freedom. From activities that are fun and carefree to those that are thought-provoking and awe-inspiring, there is an abundance of ways that you can honor Juneteenth and its legacy.

People of all races should use sensitivity, discretion, and wisdom to ensure their actions serve the purpose of supporting and uplifting people of color.

Attend Local Juneteenth Festivals

Nationwide, various locales hold festivals to celebrate Juneteenth. The North Carolina Juneteenth Festival features crafts, performances, and games for kids, and vendors often include several Black-owned companies.

Atlanta hosts an annual Juneteenth Parade and Music Festival full of vendors, food, and activities. Other cities that tend to host festivals include Omaha, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, and Little Rock, among others.

Check to see what events are planned in your area. If there's nothing happening locally, you can use ideas from other places to plan something for next year.

Embark on an Educational Experience

You can embrace a cultural experience at a local museum. Learn more about the rich history and heritage of African Americans and enjoy their artistic expressions. The National Civil Rights Museum, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Apex Museum are filled with rich, unique African American stories and experiences.

Art museums may also feature special exhibits and collections from Black artists.

Support a Black-Owned Business

Black-owned businesses often sell unique products and services. From everyday items to cultural findings, these businesses offer quality items that make for great keepsakes, gifts, or daily-use items. Support for Black-owned businesses is support for communities of color. Take the time to scope out Black-owned businesses in your area and make a purchase. If there aren’t any near you, a quick search on Google or Amazon provides a list of products from Black business owners.

Read, Learn, and Grow

Celebrate Juneteenth by reading books by Black authors. An online search will yield options in every genre. You can also get recommendations from your local librarian. Better yet, seek out a Black-owned bookstore and support them with your purchase.

Donate to Causes that Empower People of Color

Organizations like the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) fight for racial equality and also have programs benefitting Black youth. Color of Change and The Black Youth Project are also impactful organizations fighting racial injustice. Take the time to investigate the mission and work of the numerous entities that help people of color and make a donation to the cause.

A Word From Verywell

Juneteenth is a celebration of African Americans victoriously overcoming the bondage of slavery. Learning the culture and history behind the holiday gives people an appreciation for all it represents.

Your family may decide to commemorate the day by studying the heritage and traditions of African Americans, or by supporting Black authors and Black-owned businesses. No matter how you choose to celebrate, the most important part is coming together as a family to respect and honor all that Juneteenth means.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. History. What is Juneteenth?.

  2. Britannica. Juneteenth.

  3. Texas State Library and Archives. Texas observes Juneteenth.

  4. The White House. A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021.

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