Though many of us have long known July 4th as Independence Day, it was really only the celebration of freedom for white men in 1776.
It wasn't until almost a hundred years later (!!) on June 19th, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX, to ensure that all enslaved people were freed — which came two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. In a smart word mashup (our next favorite word trick after alliteration), June 19th was dubbed Juneteenth and honors the end to slavery in the U.S. (You can find a more in-depth history here and if you're looking for a good watch on it, we recommend this episode of #BlackAF on Netflix).
In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, and just this week, a bill was passed making Juneteenth a federal holiday (a big win!!). While it just became more widely covered in the last few years, African-Americans have been celebrating this important day since the 1800s.
Because we love a reason to celebrate, and this is a super important one, we did some reading on all the things that go into a Juneteenth celebration. Like any party, there are key ingredients that make it great: people (the more the merrier), music (turn it up), and good food and drink. You'll often find a focus on red food and drinks at a Juneteenth party — a tradition that symbolizes the blood of enslaved African-Americans that was shed (more on that here). If you're planning a celebration yourself, here are some ideas for throwing a Juneteenth party.
While declaring Juneteenth a national holiday is much to celebrate, it's also a moment to reflect on how much work still needs to be done.