5 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth as a Family

The anniversary of when all slaves in the United States were freed, Juneteenth is an opportunity to listen, learn, and act in support and celebration of Black people.

Annual Juneteenth parade
Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Whether you've recently come to learn about it—or have long since celebrated it—you've probably heard about Juneteenth. Also called Black Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Cel-Liberation Day, and Jubilee Day, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when all Black slaves were legally freed in the U.S., with large gatherings full of traditional food, prayers, spiritual rituals, historic readings, and dancing.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to officially celebrate Juneteenth, and in 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. The day is now recognized by individuals across the country. Juneteenth has even been featured on popular television shows like Black-ish.

But how can you celebrate Juneteenth? What are the most meaningful ways to mark and honor this holiday? Below are five ways to celebrate Juneteenth with kids.

1. Get Involved

Arguably the most important and meaningful way to celebrate Juneteenth is to actively show your support to and for the Black community, particularly if you are not a member of said community. Allyship is about action, after all—not performative gestures. Buy from Black-owned businesses, and attend community celebrations. Invest in, listen to, and support Black people. Vote for individuals who support equity and equality. And do so year-round. You also can and should check-in with your child's school about their anti-racism efforts. Support education and inclusivity.

2. Visit a Museum

Another great way to celebrate Juneteenth is to visit a museum, particularly one which focuses on the plight of Black Americans. Can't make the trip? Honor Juneteenth by virtually visiting the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. They have an online presentation specifically for the holiday that is a must-view for everyone elementary school-aged and older, including all genders and races.

3. Listen

As with any tradition, stories are lost without the constant telling and retelling of what our African ancestors called oral histories. We can keep the spirit of Juneteenth alive and well by actively listening to our Black elders, grandparents, preachers, teachers, historians, and educators. Engage a Black veteran in conversation to inquire about the holiday. Call your Black friends and ask if you can visit their church or community gathering for Juneteenth and revel in stories rich with resilience, determination, and fortitude.

4. Read

Juneteenth almost always focuses on education and self-improvement. Educate yourself by reading a book by a Black author. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates are just a few recommended by Penguin Random House. Check out other curated lists or head to your local library. There are plenty of choices and thousands of pages of Black history to broaden your knowledge.

5. Watch

Whether you celebrate Juneteenth in an entertaining way by route of Black-ish or #BlackAF or through a documentary film that will take your breath away, make sure you schedule in some couch time. There are some highly engaging programs out there, most of which are educational too. Not sure where to start? Check out Ava Duverney's award-winning must-see When They See Us or 13th. If you have middle or high school children, watch The Hate U Give or Remember The Titans. You can also turn to YouTube and PBS Kids. Both offer great options.

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