What is Juneteenth 2023? Celebrations, history, meaning, events

Many people are now off work or school, and communities across the United States celebrate with street festivals, concerts, and other events.

For more than a century and a half, Friday has been sacred to many Black communities.

It marks the day in 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas discovered they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Since its designation as a federal holiday in 2021, June 10 has become more widely recognized outside of black America. Many people are off work or school, and there are plenty of street festivals, fairs, concerts and other events.

RELATED: Will the Post Office Close on June 16? Here’s what’s open on Mondays.

Those who have never thought of June 19 as more than a fleeting thought might ask themselves, is there a “right” way to celebrate June 19?

For those who are just starting out and learning history, here are some answers:


It just depends on what you want. The 10th of June festivals are rooted in cooking and barbecues. At the beginning of the holiday that was considered a true Independence Day by black Americans, the outdoors allowed for large, noisy reunions between formerly enslaved families, many of whom were divided. cut. The gatherings were particularly revolutionary because they did not have restrictive measures, known as “Black Codes,” enforced in the Confederate states, controlling whether freed slaves could be freed. voting, property purchases, gatherings for worship, and other aspects of daily life.

Alan Freeman, 60, grew up celebrating June 16 every year in Houston, 50 miles north of Galveston. A comedian who was producing Galveston’s first June 10 Comedy Festival on Saturday, he has vivid memories of the smoke covering his entire neighborhood because so many people were using the grill their meat to celebrate. You can go to anyone’s home and be welcome to join the party, which can include grilled chicken and beef and other regional dishes – jerky, fried fish, Jamaican bananas.

“That’s where I started to really see Black unity because I realized that was the day when African Americans considered us our own,” says Freeman. “The only vacation is ours. We don’t have to share it with anyone. And it was about freedom because what we understood was that we were liberated from slavery. But, there are a lot of nice activities.”

Others may choose to treat Juneteenth as a day of rest and remembrance. That could mean doing community service work, attending educational seminars, or taking time off.

David Anderson, a Black pastor and CEO of Gracism Global, a consulting firm that helps leaders navigate conversations bridging race and culture, said it’s important is to make people feel they have choices about how to view the occasion.

“Like Martin Luther King Day, we say it’s a day of service and a lot of people will do things. There are a lot of other people who are just ‘I appreciate Dr. King, I’ll watch what’s on TV and I’ll take a break,'” Anderson said. “I don’t want to make people feel guilty about it. What I want to do is give people a choice every day.”


Anderson, 57, of Columbia, Maryland, never did anything on June 16 in his youth. He didn’t learn about it until he was 30.

“I think a lot of people don’t know about it – people who are even my color as an African American man. Even if you hear about it and know about it, you don’t celebrate,” Anderson said. “It’s like just a piece of history. It’s not a celebration of history.”

For many African Americans, the farther they grew up from Texas, the more likely they were not to hold big June 16 celebrations as often. In the South, dates can vary from state to state from Liberation to state.

Anderson has no special events planned other than giving his employees Friday and Monday off. If anything, Anderson is thinking about Father’s Day.

“If I could combine Father’s Day and June 16th to be with my family and honor them that would be wonderful,” he said.


Search online and you’ll find a wide range of gatherings in major cities and suburbs, all varying in scope and tone. Some festivals are more festive with food carts, arts and crafts, and parades. During those festivals, you’ll have access to experts in healthcare, finance, and community resources. There are also concerts and fashion shows to highlight Black excellence and creativity. For those who want to look back, many organizations and universities hold workshops to remind people of Juneteenth’s history.


Besides barbecue, red has been the dominant color of Juneteenth food for generations. The red color symbolizes the bloodshed and sacrifice of enslaved ancestors. Juneteenth’s menu can incorporate items like grilled ribs or other red meat, watermelon, and red velvet cake. Drinks such as juice and red Kool-Aid may appear on the table.


Dr Karida Brown, a sociology professor at Emory University whose research has focused on race, says there’s no reason to feel awkward about wanting to recognize Juneteenth because you don’t have personal ties. or you are not Black. In fact, embrace it.

“I’m going to reframe that and challenge my non-blacks who want to look forward to June 10 and celebrate,” Brown said. “It is completely your history. It is entirely part of your experience. … Isn’t this all our history? The good, the bad, the ugly, the story of liberation and freedom for your Black brothers and sisters under the Constitution of the Law.”

If you want to bring some authenticity to your recognition of Juneteenth, educate yourself. Attending a street festival or sponsoring a Black-owned business is a good start, but it’s also great to “make your mind better,” says Anderson.

“That lasted more than a celebration,” Anderson said. “I think Blacks need to do that too because it’s new to us, in America, too. But for non-Black people, if they can read about this subject and read about the history of Blacks beyond Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, it will show me that you are really serious about this. development in this area.”

If you’re struggling with how to mark a day “ethically,” Brown also suggests expanding your knowledge of why the holiday is so important. That could be through reading a book, attending an event, or going to an African American history museum if it’s nearby.

“Have the full human experience of seeing yourself in and through the eyes of others, even if it’s not your own life experience,” she says. “It’s a wonderfully radical human act and should be encouraged and celebrated.”


For decades, Juneteenth has also been known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Black Fourth of July, and Second Independence Day among others.

Brown said: “Because it’s 1776, July 4th, where we celebrate liberty and liberties and all that, not including my descendants. “Black people in America are still enslaved. So that holiday always comes with a bit of a bittersweet twist.


Comedian Freeman said: “Happy June 10” or “Happy Teenagers” is normal.

“You know how at Christmas people would say ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other and not even know each other? You can get a ‘Merry Christmas’ from everyone. This is the same way,” says Freeman.

Regardless of your race, you’ll “definitely” get a smile if you utter either greeting, he said.

“I believe a non-Black person celebrates June 1st…this is the only time they have a say, get involved.”

Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing edmund@ustimespost.com.

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