Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865 — the day the end of the Civil War was announced in Texas. It is known as our country’s second Independence Day.
Juneteenth has always been a day of celebration with family and friends gathering to offer comfort, prayers, and a celebration of freedom in the African American community. This will be the first year Massachusetts marks Juneteenth as a holiday. Governor Charlie Baker last July signed legislation making June 19 an official state holiday.
A good way to explain the meaning of Juneteenth to children is to talk about the importance of human beings having a level of freedom in their day to day lives.
Below are ways to celebrate and bring awareness of Juneteenth into your home:
As you explore different ways to bring awareness about Juneteenth, be sure to watch or read material before you introduce it to your child to make sure it makes sense on their level. For older children, the African American History Museum’s website offers good information about Juneteenth. For younger kids, try books like "Juneteenth for Mazie", about a little girl who is upset about restrictions like bedtime; and "All Different Now," the story of the day freedom arrived in Texas from a little girl's perspective.
Prepare a special meal
Coming together as a family for a special meal and discussion is a good way to celebrate Juneteenth, especially if young kids are involved. This is a great way to explain the importance and meaning of the holiday while encouraging healthy self-reflection techniques. (Need some ideas on traditional Juneteenth foods? Check out this video from Thrillist.)
Have children create a drawing of what freedom and kindness looks like for them. Try to give minimal instruction (unless of course they ask for your help and input) - its beautiful to see what the open heart of a child can come up with!
There will be celebrations across Massachusetts and beyond but right here on the South Shore, the Hingham Unity Council is hosting a Juneteenth community event - All are welcome to celebrate in community with friends and family at the Hingham Bathing Beach (near the gazebo)on Saturday June 19th from 4pm to 6pm. Enjoy poetry written & read by local resident David Janey, music & more! Juneteenth Celebration - Hingham Unity Council
Similar to other holidays like July 4th and Memorial Day, Juneteenth is an important day in American history. Freedom is an important part of our history.
Eraina Ferguson is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Torrance, Calif.