By Rochelle Deane
The Fourth of July also known as Independence Day or July 4th is widely known as a holiday dedicated to celebrating American independence, but many people also celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth takes place annually on June 19th, also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, or Jubilee Day. This is a day that celebrates the last group of enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas learning that they were free in 1865 under the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln. After decades of advocacy from Black activists and community leaders, Juneteenth officially gained federal recognition and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.
This holiday represents a turning point in American history. This was an important day in history and for the fight to end American slavery. Many non-Black Americans had not heard of Juneteenth until it was observed as a federal holiday, however, the holiday has deep roots in the southern United States, and many have celebrated this day for generations. People of all ethnic and racial backgrounds can observe this day because the freedom of oppressed people is something we should all celebrate. Juneteenth is the perfect occasion to provide opportunities to reflect, celebrate, share, and expose children to stories of American history, race, leadership, innovation, and accomplishments. The Juneteenth holiday is honored across the country with barbecues, parades, reunions, and so much more. Below are a few educational and engaging ideas to celebrate Juneteenth with children.
Activities for Juneteenth:
- Listen: African American folk tales and songs.
- Learn: Records of the Freedom Bureau.
- Enjoy: Special meal with loved ones.
- Create: A Juneteenth flag.
Recycled Cardboard Flag Craft for Kids- https://craftingafunlife.com/2020/06/juneteenth-recycled-cardboard-flag-craft-for-kids.html/
Reading books about Juneteenth:
- “Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper.
- “What is Juneteenth?” by Kirsti Jewel
- “Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story” by Valerie Wesley
- “The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States” by Alliah L. Agostini.
- “Juneteenth Jamboree” by Carole Boston Weatherford.
- “All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” by Angela Johnson.
- “Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth” by Alice Faye Duncan.
Juneteenth resources made for children:
- Understanding & Celebrating Juneteenth: Help kids learn about Juneteenth — and its related topics like slavery and freedom. This kid-friendly guide was developed by the early childhood education team at the NMAAHC.
- What Is Juneteenth?: Cartoon video with fun facts about Juneteenth from FresBerg Cartoon.
- Juneteenth: PBS Kids video all about the holiday.