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5 ways to celebrate Juneteenth

Members of the parade perform during the 48th Annual Juneteenth Day Festival on June 19, 2019 in Milwaukee.
Members of the parade perform during the 48th Annual Juneteenth Day Festival on June 19, 2019 in Milwaukee. (2019 Getty Images for VIBE)

Juneteenth, which takes place June 19 each year, is the name for the date in 1865 when Union soldiers freed the remaining slaves in Texas, enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation.

It’s a holiday for celebrating equal rights and freedom throughout the United States.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve always celebrated or you’d like to start now. Hopefully these ideas will provide some inspiration either way.

1.) Celebrate freedom.

Though Juneteenth’s history is based in the history of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth shouldn’t just be about solemnly remembering injustices. It’s also a time to celebrate freedom and equal rights.

Juneteenth is a complicated, multifaceted holiday. Acknowledge the horrors of slavery and the strides that still need to be made, but remind yourself that this is a time to celebrate strong people and steps forward.

Staying positive attracts more people to the idea of celebration, and helps to inform people who might not otherwise observe Juneteenth.

2.) Focus on food and fellowship.

Because June is usually sunny and warm for most of the country, it’s the perfect time to hold a BBQ with plenty of outdoor games and activities. Ask everyone to bring their favorite dish or a game to play. Encourage people to bring games and food that have historical significance for Juneteenth. Any holiday is a good excuse to visit with loved ones, but Juneteenth is an especially nice time to join together and celebrate equal rights and history. Start and end the party with a reminder of the importance of Juneteenth and what it means, but give people plenty of free time to visit with old friends or make new ones.

3.) Visit a historical site or museum.

If you’d rather keep things low-key, invite a few friends to join you at a museum or historical site -- of course, this might be a challenge if coronavirus closures remain in place where you live, but it’s still a nice idea. Maybe you could find an outdoor spot.

You could even visit several different places, carpooling or walking in the warm summer air between sites.

Find places that celebrate famous or brave black historical figures, or tour a museum’s black history section. Have everyone pack a picnic lunch to eat after the historical visit, or you could also meet up to share a bite later.

4.) Hold a movie marathon.

Movies are another quiet way of celebrating Juneteenth in a meaningful but fun way. Gather friends and family together to watch movies that focus on black history. Serve up plenty of popcorn and other snacks that are easy to eat while watching the films. Discuss together what the movies mean and how they each relate to Juneteenth.

Remember that it can be difficult to sit and watch more than one movie in a row, so pick your selections carefully. Allow people to come and go as they please. Some guests might prefer to visit with each other instead of watching a movie, so consider setting up a separate area with food and drinks where people can socialize without worrying about interrupting the film.

5.) Create something together.

Juneteenth is a holiday that inspires people to remember the past and push forward for a better tomorrow. You might feel inspired to create a lasting memorial that celebrates the holiday and the freedom it represents. This type of party takes more time and effort to plan, but maybe you can start thinking ahead for next year. It can be an excellent way of gathering people together to beautify the community. Ask your town officials if there is a place where your group could paint a mural or even place a sculpture.


Be enthusiastic about celebrating this holiday, and people are likely to follow suit. Think about the types of friends and family you have and how they would most enjoy spending time together on Juneteenth. With a little planning, you can have a meaningful and fun Juneteenth celebration with the people you love.

Author: Brittany Madera