What is Juneteenth and Why Is It Important?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than just accepting and welcoming others. It’s also about acknowledging and educating others on different cultures, religions, and celebrations, which brings us to Juneteenth. ThisSaturday, June 19, 2021, people across the county will celebrate Juneteenth, FreedomDay, or Emancipation Day, representing freedom for Black Americans and the end of slavery.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, which announced the end of slavery. The south did not officially free those enslaved until June 19, 1865, when the Union Army ended the civil war after arriving in Galveston, Texas, and announced to those enslaved that the war was over and they were finally free. Since then, Black communities across the world have celebrated Juneteenth by praying and bringing families together. In 1872 a group of African American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park, a location dedicated to celebrating Juneteenth. Juneteenth has recently been recognized as a national holiday with celebrations across the country consisting of parades, picnics, and cultural activities like double dutch competitions and hair braiding.
While Black American people celebrate the holiday, much work still needs to be done to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within different communities. The outcry of equality for unarmed Black men and women killed daily is a tune that the Black community knows all too well; however, Black Americans have turned pain into joy with well-known groups like Black Lives Matter that educate and support the black community as well as Juneteenth fests celebrating their freedom. Acknowledging Juneteenth gives respect to those enslaved based on their skin color and those who fought for the basic human rights of Black Americans. Below are a few ways you can celebrate Juneteenth or support others that celebrate the holiday.
Attend a Juneteenth Barbeque or BBQ
- Juneteenth would not be Juneteenth without homemade food from the Black community. During slavery, enslaved people were only given a peck of cornmeal and 3-4 pounds of pork per week. Though the food was considered the “bottom of the barrel,” the rations created “Soul Food” which consists of cornbread, fried catfish, greens, barbequed ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, and much more. Food has always been the core of the black community, and Juneteenth will be no different. If you’re unable to attend a Juneteenth cookout, buy your meals from a Black-owned restaurant to help put money back in the Black community.Juneteenth would not be Juneteenth without homemade food from the Black community. During slavery, enslaved people were only given a peck of cornmeal and 3-4 pounds of pork per week. Though the food was considered the “bottom of the barrel,” the rations created “Soul Food” which consists of cornbread, fried catfish, greens, barbequed ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, and much more. Food has always been the core of the black community, and Juneteenth will be no different. If you’re unable to attend a Juneteenth cookout, buy your meals from a Black-owned restaurant to help put money back in the Black community.
Read a Book Written by a Black Author
- With slavery dating back to the early 1500s, most Black Americans’ true history is found in books written by Black Authors. Despite being deprived of education, those enslaved were able to share their experiences with their children, who grew to create vivid stories about the horrors of slavery. A few authors that paint the picture of Black culture beautifully are James Baldwin and his book The Fire Next Time, the first female inaugural poet Maya Angelou and her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings or The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.
Watch a Black Movie or TV Show
- No, it does not have to be a sad tale about slavery (though it wouldn’t hurt to catch up on that knowledge as well), but there are millions of great tv shows and movies produced by African Americans and staring an all-Black cast. Like Spike Lee and his critically acclaimed movie Do The Right Thing. Ava DuVerney and her film Selma, or if you’re looking for something a little more humorous, binge-watch the television series, Black-ish, produced by Kenya Barris. With so much creativity pouring from the Black community, there are tons of options available when supporting Black film directors, actors, and producers.
Visit an African American Museum
- Immerse yourself in black culture by visiting one of the many exhibits dedicated to Black history. Based on where you live, you may have to drive a few miles, but it would be worth it. A few well-known museums focused on African American culture are The Studio Museum, The Dusable Museum, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The National Civil Rights Museum, and the Northwest African American Museum, to name a few. Try doing a quick google search to find the closest African American museum in your area.
Help Make Juneteenth a National Holiday
- Although Juneteenth has received recent recognition throughout the United States, with a few states announcing it as a holiday, not every state considers Juneteenth a national paid day off like the 4th of July or Columbus Day. That can all change with help from you! 94-year-old Opal Lee, a Texan native, has started a petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday across the country. Currently, there is legislation in the Senate S.4019 and in the House H.R.7232 known as the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act – that needs to be passed into law. By signing the petition, you can help speed up the process and celebrate those that lost their lives for the freedom and equality of Black people.
We have a long way to go, but we’re finally seeing progress in recognizing Black people in America and ensuring equality for all.
At MVP Staffing, we believe in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce that accepts everyone regardless of race, age, gender, creed, religion, or disability and is free of discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. We stand with those in the Black community, and we support the Black community.