This week in 2021, Congress passed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, a long overdue acknowledgment of the significance of this date for the Black community.
Today we honor Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the day when 250,000 enslaved people in the state of Texas were pronounced free by executive decree. While the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, the new policy was not implemented in confederate states. On June 19th, 1865, 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and enslaved Black people in the state were pronounced free by executive decree.
The newly free citizens in Texas began celebrating the day as “Juneteenth." We encourage you to examine the origins of the holiday and reflect on how you can address and dismantle systems of racism that continue to marginalize the Black community nationally and locally.
Here are some things you can do to honor Juneteenth:
Support Black Businesses Here in Rhode Island:
Rhode Island Monthly has compiled a great resource of stores and restaurants around Rhode Island owned and operated by the Black community. Find it here and patronize these businesses: https://www.rimonthly.com/support_black_owned-businesses/
Take the time to learn about the history of this holiday, and the ways in which you can be an ally to the Black community by pushing for voting rights legislation, anti-racism curriculum and much more. Here are just a few resources. We encourage you to seek out more.
Ebony Magazine feature article on Juneteenth: https://www.ebony.com/exclusive/juneteenth-explaining-an-unsung-holiday/#axzz4k8frRgbX
NMAAHC Kids: Understanding & Celebrating Juneteenth: https://nmaahc.si.edu/sites/default/files/files/nmaahc_kids_-_juneteenth_resource.pdf
A Juneteenth reading list for adults: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/the-read-down/juneteenth
A tour of the Freedom Calling exhibit with Founding Director Lonnie Bunch of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/celebrating-juneteenth
Learn and advocate for anti-racist curriculum. Learn more with Teach for America: https://www.teachforamerica.org/one-day/top-issues/examining-learning-through-an-anti-racist-lens
Support the Black Voters Fund to ensure that Black communities have full access to their right to vote: https://blackvotersmatterfund.org
Take the "Pursue Black Liberation 21 Day Challenge"In Honor Of Juneteenth:
Join Monique Melton in the 21-day Challenge to build a daily practice of anti-racism by pursuing Black liberation. Monique Melton is a highly sought-after anti-racism educator, published author, international speaker, and host of the Shine Brighter Together podcast. She is also the founder of Shine Brighter Together, which is a community dedicated to Black liberation. Find the challenge here: https://www.moniquemelton.com/21-challenge
Read As A Family:
Here are four great books that you can read as a family to learn more about Juneteenth:
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson