What is Juneteenth and how can we mark it this year?

Discover the history behind the day, and learn how it’s relevant today

Juneteenth is the national holiday that marks the anniversary of the emancipation proclamation in Texas, the last un-emancipated state in the USA, and the final step to freeing enslaved black Americans.

While the emancipation proclamation was first signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it took more than two years before all enslaved black Americans were free. Some landowners continued their operations in southern states, and it wasn’t until 19 June 1865 that slavery was finally abolished.

Since then, the anniversary of the day has also been referred to as ‘Freedom Day’, ‘Emanicpation Day’, and ‘Juneteenth Independence Day’, before becoming ‘Juneteenth’ as it is known today. According to Juneteenth.com, many different celebratory themes quickly became associated with the day, including food and sports – many of which are continued today.

But over time, recognition of the day dwindled – with Juneteenth.com pointing to the fact that many 1900 classroom textbooks declared that slavery ended with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863.

Today, interest in Juneteenth is on the rise, with many US companies giving employees the day off, and celebrations going digital. However, it is yet to become a Federal holiday.

As Black Lives Matter protests continue across the globe, with the anti-racism conversation rightly at the front of our minds. This year, Juneteenth is an opportunity to reflect on the work that still needs to be done and the ways that we can break down racist systems.

So what can we do to mark this historic and relevant day?


Read

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Racism is by no means unique to the US. Racial bias and white privileged is still very prominent in the UK, and it’s something we should all be taking the time to make ourselves aware of.

Working through the history of race relations in the UK, and the historical ramifications, in Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Eddo-Lodge explores privilege in the 21st Century.


Listen

Black Gals Livin’

Chatting through everything from mental health to pop culture, hosts Jas and Victoria speak candidly about issues faced by the black community in an accessible, frank way that makes you feel like you’re just listening in on two friends.


Watch

13th, Netflix

Watch the critically acclaimed, thought-provoking documentary that gets to the core of America’s racial history, and will educate you on the past and present, and inspire you to take action to move towards a truly equal world.


Join in

Join the conversation and learn from activists and online figures by following the #Juneteenth hashtag on social media.