Black Voices on Juneteenth 2024

A plus-size Black woman closes her eyes and smiles in the sunshine while holding a wing-pattern scarf behind her head in front of water and a cloudy sky.

What is Juneteenth? Why do we celebrate it? And how can white people help Black people on this day without taking over?

Juneteenth is on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

Since as of 2021, Juneteenth is now a U.S. federal holiday, more white people are aware of its existence, and thus more white people need to learn about its significance and how to act in a way that supports Black people. Below are articles and posts about the history of this day and points for white people to reflect on.

What You Should Know About Juneteenth

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States, first recognized by the state of Texas. It is also known as “Freedom Day,” “Juneteenth Independence Day,” or “Emancipation Day.”

Read more: https://www.almanac.com/juneteenth

Evita Ellis

What is Juneteenth?
June 19, 1865, is the day Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Freed Texas slaves began an annual celebration of June 19 on the first anniversary of the day, and the holiday eventually began to be known as Juneteenth.
The design of the Juneteenth flag depicts a bursting "new star", on the horizon. The star represents A NEW FREEDOM, A NEW PEOPLE, A NEW STAR. The red, white, and blue colors communicate that the American Slaves, and their descendants were all Americans."
PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION SIMILAR TO S.J.R. 45 IN 2018! Juneteenth, the "19th of June", is America's 2nd Independence Day, officially recognized in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Congress as a state holiday or state holiday observance.
Description of the Flag. The Juneteenth flags represent the history, and freedom the American Slaves and their descendants. The design of the Juneteenth flag depicts a bursting "new star", on the horizon. The star represents A NEW FREEDOM, A NEW PEOPLE, A NEW STAR.
Juneteenth has its own day, flag and important message. Next Tuesday June 19th is observance day.

The Importance of Juneteenth

“The reactions of the newly emancipated were mixed: some stood in quiet shock and disbelief, others shouted prayers to God, but most sang and danced right there in the streets,” Shennette Garrett-Scott, a professor in the Department of History, wrote in her article entitled “When Peace Come”: Teaching the Significance of Juneteenth.  

Some may see Juneteenth as a small moment in the Civil War and Reconstruction, but its significance goes beyond that. Since that announcement of freedom in 1865, Juneteenth has become a celebration of African American culture, triumph, and civil rights.”

Read more: https://liberalarts.tamu.edu/blog/2022/06/16/the-importance-of-juneteenth/

Slavery Didn’t End On Juneteenth. What You Should Know About This Important Day

“It immediately changed the game for 250,000 people,” Shane Bolles Walsh, a lecturer with the University of Maryland’s African American Studies Department, told NPR.

Enslaved Black people, now free, had ample cause to celebrate. As Felix Haywood, a former slave, recalled: “Everybody went wild. We all felt like heroes … just like that, we were free.”

Read more: https://www.npr.org/2021/06/17/1007315228/juneteenth-what-is-origin-observation

Rawiyah Tariq

Juneteenth is an official federal holiday.
Lemme break down why this feels like a slap in the face.
We still waiting on/fighting for:
* protection for Black voters
* anti lynching bill
* reparations
* an end to school to prison pipeline
* justice for the unarmed Dead
* abolition
And now I'm waiting for Saturday
For non-Black people to be out here like #HappyJuneteenth 🥰🥳
Isn't it great?!?!
No😭😭😭
It's not great
Juneteenth exists because enslaved Black people had their freedom withheld even further. It's not a celebration for everyone. It is a sweet day but it's also a bitter one.
Send some funds to Black people out here doing the work, creating art, trying to get by and get through especially send funds to Black people who are just fucking breathing.
That goes double for Black Queer and Trans folk.
Be thoughtful
Tread lightly
Keep fighting

Make Juneteenth Great Again: The Caucasians’ Guide to Celebrating Juneteenth

“Hold up, white people.

Now that you have officially discovered Juneteenth,* you need to become familiar with the traditions, customs and history lest you succumb to the Caucasian colonization gene and gentrify this auspicious celebration. Before hopping on the Juneteenth bandwagon, you first need to realize that you have no say in driving the narrative about this special day.”

Read more: https://www.theroot.com/make-juneteenth-great-again-the-caucasians-guide-to-ce-1847124121

10 Things We Want White People to Do to Celebrate Juneteenth

“Each year, Juneteenth is a day for Black people to celebrate freedom. This year Juneteenth carries deeper meaning in the wake of Black lives lost to police brutality in the last few weeks and months. It’s hard to think that freedom is on the minds or in the hearts of Americans after the murder of George Floyd, after demonstrations for liberation or after the President was planning a political rally today.”

Read more: https://www.waysideyouth.org/2020/06/18/10-things-we-want-white-people-to-do-to-celebrate-juneteenth/

Ali Owens

White folks: this holiday is not ours to celebrate.
It is, however, an excellent opportunity to learn, reflect, and work toward repair.
“But my ancestors never enslaved anyone” does not excuse any of us from the fact that we have benefited from slavery and white supremacy. We have benefited from the abuse, dehumanization, torture, and degradation of an entire race of people.
Even the inclusion of Juneteenth as a federal holiday disproportionately benefits white folks, as we are far more likely to be working in jobs that observe federal holidays and give employees the day off.
How do we, as white folks who have unquestioningly benefited from slavery and white supremacy, respect the importance of this day and work toward repair?
1. Fight for federal reparations for descendants of enslaved workers - more info on how to get involved here: https://reparationscomm.org/reparations-plan/
2. If you’re not yet convinced we need reparations, learn about why they are necessary if we are ever going to rectify the racial wealth gap and address the lasting systemic impact of slavery in ways that are actually tangible and meaningful. This article by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a great place to start: https://www.theatlantic.com/.../the-case-for.../361631/ 
3. Engage in individual reparations through https://www.fundforreparationsnow.org (@reparationsfund on Instagram - www.instagram.com/reparationsfund )
4. Participate in mutual aid efforts through the nonprofit organization https://www.theblackfairygodmother.org (@theblackfairygodmother on Instagram - www.instagram.com/theblackfairygodmother ). This is an excellent way to put your money directly in the hands of the Black Americans who need it most.
And as always — today and every day — continue to educate yourself about the legacy of slavery, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy in the United States. For a fascinating, accessible, and extremely powerful look into slavery and its lasting impact, listen to the podcast from the New York Times, “1619,” at the following link, or wherever you access podcasts: https://www.nytimes.com/.../01/23/podcasts/1619-podcast.html 
Books every white American should read:
How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith
Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi