Reprinted from Women's Health Magazine:
Juneteenth is almost here, and, it seems like now, more than ever, is the right time to honor Black Americans. Our lives, history, and contributions deserve to be recognized—and June 19 is the perfect day to do it.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is the official date that the last enslaved people became emancipated in America. Despite what you may have learned about the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) and the ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6, 1865), the truth is that there were still holdouts across the Confederacy up until June 19, 1865 when General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas with Union soldiers and announced that the Civil War had ended—two months earlier on April 9, 1865—and that all enslaved people were free and that this freedom would be enforced, per NBC. That last part is important because, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, there were minimal Union troops in Texas and other parts of the Confederacy to enforce the law, according to Juneteenth.com.
So if you're a Black American--this is our Independence Day, and it deserves to be observed. If you're worried about how the novel coronavirus pandemic will affect Juneteenth this year, and maybe some of your plans got cancelled already—don't worry. There are plenty of ways you can still take part. How? Well, you can start by signing 93-year-old activist Opal Lee's petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday, which is long overdue.
Then, you scan the list below to see what else is going on around the country IRL and virtually. Trust me, there are so many ways you can honor Black culture, heritage, history and, most importantly, freedom. From supporting Black-owned businesses to attending a march or protest (with masks, of course!), there's an option in here for you.
1 Seriously, take the day off.
Juneteenth should have been a national holiday a long time ago. So if you don't already have Juneteenth off—pause, open your email account, and let your boss know that this is your independence day and you'll be observing the day accordingly.
2 Attend a march or protest.
Luckily, many cities are still planning to host their marches, protests, and walks IRL (just make sure to wear a mask!). Here's a few resources for events in major cities and states, just to get you started:
For too long, Black Americans haven't seen themselves represented in the workplace, politics, the healthcare system, you name it. But the one place where you should always feel seen is in your own home. So, this Juneteenth, fill your house with Black art—pieces that speak to who you are and bring you joy.
Not sure where to start? See in Black is a coalition of Black photographers whose Juneteenth sales are being donated toward several Black activist organizations. Uzo Art is a Nigerian artist who infuses bold African designs and patterns into every painting. And Tabitha Brown's colorful illustrations (pictured here!) depict Blackness, family, and community in the sweetest of ways.
4 Do a workout in honor of Juneteenth.
Women's Health is hosting two workouts on IG in honor of Juneteenth: One at 8 a.m with Angela Gargano donating to the Equal Justice Initiative and another a 1 p.m. ET with Camai Brandenberg donating to the Innocence Project.
Other organizations you can support? HIIT fitness brand, Fhitting Room, will be hosting a Strength Against Racism virtual global beneFHIT for Harlem Academy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Black Lives Matter on their Instagram Live and Facebook Live starting at 9 a.m. Plus Black Girls Do Bike and Girl Trek, both are riding and walking clubs, respectively, have chapters around the country that are hosting Juneteenth events this weekend, including in San Antonio, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri.
5 Support Black-owned bookstores and Black authors.
Looking for some new authors to try out? Check out this list of books written by Black authors that are absolutely essential to read. Extra Juneteenth brownie points if you buy it from one of these Black-owned bookstores suggested by @wellreadblackgirl.
6 Go to a virtual Juneteenth commemoration.
Start with the African American History Museum in DC. They're hosting all-day programming for their Juneteenth: A Celebration Of Resilience with music, workshops, and storytelling. Want to see what's going on closer to home? Check your local news to see what virtual events are planned.
7 Treat yourself to new shoes from a Black-owned brand.
Don't wait until July 4th to treat yourself to some mainstream kicks. There are plenty of Black-owned shoe brands that do it better. And what better day to support them than on Juneteenth? Head to Brother Vellies for a pair of sleek summer heels, check out Kahmune for the skin-toned pump you've been looking for (finally), or shop Loza Maleombho for a standout summer sandal.
8 Support Black-owned food businesses.
Food is as much a part of Black history as anything else. And it, too, deserves to be recognized. You can start by supporting brands like Dope Coffee and A Dozen Cousins who've got your mornings and lunch covered, as well as local grocers and food halls, like Market 7 which serves D.C.'s Ward 7 to alleviate food and retail deserts.
9 Support Black musicians.
Music has always been an outlet for healing and activism. And the right song always feels like a celebration. That's why you should tune into one of the Juneteenth musical events, starting with Alicia Keys and John Legend. At 8 p.m. ET on Verzuz IG Live, the two musicians will go head to head playing some of their top hits on the piano. And for those who love live Jazz and R&B, consider The Amistad Center for Art & Culture's virtual Gala featuring live music starting at 7 p.m. ET.
10 Donate to your favorite causes and organizations.
Show a little extra support today to some of your favorite causes and organizations fighting for change, like Color of Change, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, or the LGBTQ Freedom Fund.
ALEXIS JONES Assistant Editor Alexis Jones is an assistant editor at Women's Health where she writes across several verticals on WomensHealthmag.com, including life, health, sex and love, relationships and fitness, while also contributing to the print magazine.