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How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Home

How to Celebrate Juneteenth at Home

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States

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Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19, which was the day in 1865 when about 250,000 slaves in Texas were finally told of their freedom — nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This year's celebration may look different. On the minds of many will be the recent death of George Floyd which has reignited national conversations and protests on race, equality and justice.  Americans also continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic that limits the size of gatherings. Here are some ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year.

Have a cookout at home

Have a cookout at home

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Lots of summer celebrations include a cookout, and this year doesn’t have to be any different in the wake of coronavirus. Dependent upon the restrictions in your state, you might be able to gather in small groups for an afternoon of backyard games, grilling and festivities. Try these sweet and spicy marinated steaks on the grill and have some light summer sides like this watermelon and cucumber salad.

Picnic in the backyard

Picnic in the backyard

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Not all states are fully open to dining in yet, but you can still order out your favorite foods to celebrate Juneteenth and support a local business at the same time. Spread out at a picnic table; pull out plates, napkins and cutlery; put your favorite music on and enjoy an outdoor lunch as you reflect on the importance of the day.

Check to see if your city will hold a virtual event

Check to see if your city will hold a virtual event

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Taking online classes and planning a staycation aren’t the only things you can do to get creative during quarantine. Many cities have moved their Juneteenth celebrations online. Cincinnati will air its virtual festivities on cable and YouTube, the African American Museum of Iowa is hosting a virtual event, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is live-streaming its Juneteenth celebration and Dallas is going to have a drive-thru celebration. Those are only a few, so check your city or state websites to see if there will be similar celebrations.

Have strawberry popsicles ready

Have strawberry popsicles ready

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What is more refreshing than a frozen treat on a hot day? If you’re having a picnic, cool down with these strawberry popsicles.

For the Strawberry Popsicles With Chocolate Drizzle recipe, click here.

Pour yourself a cocktail

Pour yourself a cocktail

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Red drinks like hibiscus teas and red sodas have historical significance — the kola nut, which was once an essential ingredient in Coca-Cola, and hibiscus are West African plants. Those aren’t the only red drinks though, and if you’re looking to spice up your afternoon, sip on a pomegranate martini or a bloody mary.

For the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Bloody Mary recipe, click here.

Cool down with a smoothie

Cool down with a smoothie

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If popsicles and cocktails aren’t your thing, blend up a smoothie for a chilled treat. These mixed berry smoothies are bright red, healthy and dairy free.

For the Mixed Berry Coconut Milk Smoothie recipe, click here.

Have a car parade

Have a car parade

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Like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, you can celebrate Juneteenth social distancing style by gathering a group to drive through the neighborhood with. Blow up balloons and attach streamers to the cars, decorate signs to commemorate the day and have some music playing out the car windows.

Host a socially distanced concert

Host a socially distanced concert

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We may not be able to gather in large groups, but the music doesn’t have to stop because large concerts can’t happen. If a couple of neighbors can play instruments, get them together for a concert on the block. Remember to wear masks even if gathered outside and to space out the seating.

Read up on the history

Read up on your history

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If you’ve never celebrated before or if you’re not aware of the history behind Juneteenth, read about it. If self-isolation has given us anything, it’s given us time. Use this time at home to educate yourself on the importance of this day in U.S. history — it isn’t just a day to cook out and listen to music. This is a day to reflect on the past and observe liberty.

Watch ‘13th’

Watch ‘13th’

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Directed by Ava DuVernay, the documentary “13th” discusses the U.S. prison system, revealing the history of racial inequality in the country. It touches on the theme of incarceration as a form of slavery, given the loophole of the 13th Amendment. This amendment may have abolished slavery, but the phrasing, “... except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted ...” led to African American males being arrested and convicted over minor crimes at a higher rate than white men.

Watch ‘12 Years a Slave’

Watch ‘12 Years a Slave’

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Rotten Tomatoes calls “12 Years a Slave” an “unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery.” The movie is based on Solomon Northup’s memoir of the same name. Northup, an African American born into freedom, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. After 12 years under the command of several masters, he was reclaimed and returned to his family.

Watch films about African American triumphs

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Juneteenth is, after all, a celebration, and the freedom granted by the Emancipation Proclamation has led to some incredible stories that make for great and uplifting viewing. “Hidden Figures,” tells the true story of black female mathematicians and their work that helped send a man to space. The film won an NAACP Image Award in 2017. And if you are looking for triumphs on the field instead, “42” chronicles the journey of Jackie Robinson, who helped break racial barriers in the sport in the 1940s when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Take in groundbreaking family films films

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There are also plenty of family films that celebrate black culture, and some that broke down barriers in the industry. Disney’s 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog” features the film company’s first black princess. And for something more action-packed, take a trip to the kingdom of Wakanda in “Black Panther.” The superhero movie is a celebration of Black culture and a verifiable whose-who of modern black filmmaking talent both in front of the camera and behind it with direction by Ryan Coogler and performances by Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. “Black Panther” grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

Read ‘The Fire Next Time’

Read ‘The Fire Next Time’

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“The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin is an essay written in letter format. The letter was addressed to Baldwin’s nephew and dated on the 100th anniversary of when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. In it, he discusses the position of black people in America a hundred years after slaves were freed, and just before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Read ‘Stony the Road’

Read ‘Stony the Road’

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“Stony the Road” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. delves into the struggle for racial equality in the post-Civil War world. Getting to the roots of structural racism, the book calls freedom into question: If the end of slavery marked supposed freedom, then why, a century later, was it still necessary to march in Martin Luther King Jr.’s America?

Ask about the traditions

Ask about the traditions

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If you see people on your social media posting and sharing their forms of celebration this year and you’d like to be able to observe the holiday too, ask someone about the traditions behind the holiday. Simply learning about something new and having an understanding of a culture or a race’s celebration unlike your own will open your world view that much more.

Virtually visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Virtually visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Take a tour without even leaving the couch. The founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will take you through a 30-minute tour of the Slavery and Freedom exhibit. Like the idea of virtual tours? Here is our list of free online tours of landmarks and museums.

 

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