How do you observe Juneteenth? As a holiday that represents perseverance and freedom as well as a reminder of oppression and slavery, it’s important to share the meaning behind the day with our children. While Juneteenth marks the day that the news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galvaston, Texas, it was preceded by decades of mistreatment, abuse, and enslavement of African Americans. This is history that is difficult to remember, but necessary to reflect upon. We had the opportunity to ask some Black creators in our community about what Juneteenth means to them and how they choose to observe it as well as speak to their kids about the holiday. Here’s what they shared with us:
What significance does Juneteenth hold for you personally?
Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the hardships and sacrifices endured by my ancestors on my behalf. I am eternally grateful for their tremendous contributions, which have granted us the freedom we enjoy today. The significance of Juneteenth became even more profound when my daughter was born on that very day, adding an extra layer of meaning and making the occasion even more special to me. - Veniece Lee, @innatemotherhood
It is my Independence Day. Juneteenth reminds me of what people who look like me went through and what we can achieve. To me, it is equal parts celebration and remembrance. It’s an ode to my ancestors who are brave heroes. Their sacrifices paved a path for me and I can live their wildest dreams. It’s a day of healing, love, and joy. - Mardochée Julien, @mermaidmaman
The significance that Juneteenth holds for me, is the celebration of my ancestors true documented freedom. And it reminds me to hold on to that freedom. - Whitney Weatherington, @heywittywhit
How do you typically spend Juneteenth with your family, and what traditions do you like to incorporate into your celebrations?
We love giving back to our community and supporting local Black-owned businesses. It would be awesome if we all shared these businesses on social media to help them thrive all year round. As my kids are growing up, I want them to get involved too and start volunteering every Juneteenth. I want to make it a fun and meaningful experience for the whole family! - Veniece Lee, @innatemotherhood
We celebrate by supporting Black businesses, eating our favorite foods, and listening to Black music. My family and I celebrate by taking the time to learn about our family history, honoring traditions, and documenting stories of our heritage for generations to come. - Mardochée Julien, @mermaidmaman
We celebrate by having a great meal together and spending time as family. - Whitney Weatherington, @heywittywhit
As parents, how do you approach discussing the significance of Juneteenth with your children?
I believe in being transparent and truthful with my children, using language that they can understand. At the same time, I want to ensure that they are not exposed to traumatic information at such a young age. So when explaining Juneteenth to them, I focus on providing the facts while highlighting the celebration of freedom. I emphasize the significance of the day when people were finally told they were free, and we commemorate that joyous moment with special events and activities. It's important for them to grasp the importance of equality and appreciate the progress we've made as a society. - Veniece Lee, @innatemotherhood
Juneteenth is extra special to us because our son was born a day before. It felt meant to be. It’s something to be proud of, he made it just in time to celebrate. As parents, it is our job to remind him of where he comes from and to empower him. He must understand we are celebrating the freedom of enslaved people. It helps us continue the ongoing conversation around racism and promoting anti-racism. It allows us to control the conversation and clarify false narratives. Although the conversation is difficult, it helps keep him safe as he navigates the world as a Black child. Also, Juneteenth allows us to teach him about amazing contributions made by Black Americans for centuries. Our son must recognize his history matters. - Mardochée Julien, @mermaidmaman
We remind our children of the reasons why Juneteenth is such an important celebration, the emancipation of our ancestors that were enslaved and were finally freed. - Whitney Weatherington, @heywittywhit
Are there any specific resources or activities that you find particularly helpful in teaching them about this important day?
Yes! Gracie’s Corner has been a huge hit with my youngest, and we often watch the Juneteenth Song/Video together. My 6-year-old son enjoys the song as well. In addition to that, I find age-appropriate books to be really helpful in expanding their understanding. Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom by Sharon Dennis Wyeth is a wonderful introductory book that captures the essence of Juneteenth and makes it relatable for young minds. - Veniece Lee, @innatemotherhood
Trina Greene Brown is the founder of Parenting for Liberation and her website helped me figure out how to start the conversation. An early childhood education team at the NMAAHC created a resource that is a child-friendly guide to help children learn about Juneteenth and related topics like slavery and freedom. - Mardochée Julien, @mermaidmaman
I love reading books to my kids leading up to the holiday. One of my current favorites is "The Juneteenth Story" written by Alliah L. Agostini. It truly helps them understand and remember why we celebrate. - Whitney Weatherington, @heywittywhit
We hope that hearing from these members of our community has inspired you in new ways on how to teach your kiddos about Juneteenth and how to respectfully recognize & observe this very important holiday.