Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day, is the celebration of the emancipation of slavery and the 13th amendment.
UAS’s Jennifer Gross helps us educate, celebrate and share
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, but it took another two and a half years for the news of freedom to reach nearly 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.
Formerly enslaved people in Texas celebrated after the announcement, and the following year freedmen and freedwomen organized the first annual celebration of Jubilee Day. The African American community was barred from the use of public spaces so they often celebrated by rivers and creeks.
In 1872 black leaders purchased 10 acres of land to celebrate Juneteenth, which is known today as Emancipation Park in Houston Texas.
Dress was the most important element in early Juneteenth celebrations. Formerly enslaved people were prohibited from dressing nicely, so on Juneteenth they threw their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers and wore adorn clothing.
Strawberry pop became a popular drink at barbecues to represent the blood that was shed during slavery and resilence.
Modern Juneteeth Celebrations and Food
Juneteenth today is a day of outdoor celebration, barbecues, family and filled with black joy. Food of these celebrations are traditionally red-themed. Red foods such as beans, watermelon, red velvet cake and drinks like punch are commonly consumed during the festivities.
Other foods such as black-eyed peas and cornbread are staples, which have cultural significance to the African American community.
Support and Celebrate Today
Although African Americans celebrate their freedom on Juneteenth, there is no denying the systems of racial injustice that still exist and are upheld in this country. Juneteenth in 2020 seems to be more of a day of self reflection, due to the spotlight on the BLM movement with recent events. Food and celebration are fantastic and much needed, however, there will never be true freedom in this country until everyone is free. The following are a few ways you can get involved in today’s Human Rights Movement:
- Continue your self-education
- Sign petitions online, send texts, make phone calls, attend local events
- Help register and educate voters
- Continue to amplify melanated voices
- Support black owned businesses
- Ongoing monthly donations to an organization (Black Lives Matter, NAACP, ACLU, YMCA, etc)