On June 19, 1865 – more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation – General Gordon Granger announced to the people of Galveston, Texas, that all enslaved people were now free. Today, Americans celebrate June 19 – or Juneteenth – as a federal holiday to commemorate this landmark event in our nation’s history. Juneteenth is recognized as a time for celebration and reflection, and a time to consider all we can do to lift up others in our community.
How can families celebrate Juneteenth?
You don’t have to be an expert on American history or the holiday itself to start a conversation with your child about Juneteenth. Learning about the holiday together can be a great way to bond with your child while also recognizing this important day in our nation’s history.
Here are some kid-friendly ideas to celebrate Juneteenth:
- Watch a video on Juneteenth together. There are many video resources on television and on the internet that you can access for free to learn more about Juneteenth, its traditions and colors, and many are made specifically for kids. Here are a few examples from YouTube, but consider seeking out a few together with your child that fit their age and interests (like music or storytelling).
- Read books about the history and traditions of the holiday. There are many great children’s books for kids of all ages about Juneteenth, available from local booksellers or Amazon. And don’t forget! The library is a great, free resource for books on Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, and more from this important time in our nation’s history.
- Attend a Juneteenth celebration in your community. Many communities have local Juneteenth celebrations, including memorial fun runs/walks, picnics, parades, festivals, food trucks, and other kid-friendly activities. Look for events in your area for a great opportunity to support your community, learn more, and celebrate the holiday with new friends.
- Encourage your kids to write about what freedom means to them. Juneteenth is also referred to as “Freedom Day.” As a family, take a few minutes to reflect on what the word “freedom” means to you and consider writing down your thoughts. Once each family member has had time to finish writing, share your thoughts with each other.
About the Author
Valley Children’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and its three subcommittees are committed to fostering a welcoming environment that invites a broad range of perspectives, celebrates diversity and promotes inclusion. The committees are comprised of members from across Valley Children’s network and seek to advance understanding of how cultural and linguistic competence can improve the care we provide to the children who count on us.