Juneteenth is an important day in America's history because freedom is an essential part of our story.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was more than two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on January 1, 1863.
The day has always been a time of celebration, especially in the African American community, and its significance only continues to grow: In 2021, Juneteenth National Independence Day was designated a U.S. Federal holiday.
We have four ideas for your family to take part in this important and historical celebration.
Attend the Juneteenth Music Festival.
One of the nation's largest and longest-running Juneteenth celebrations, the Juneteenth Music Festival returns on June 18th and 19th with its annual parade and street festival featuring hundreds of vendors, concerts, and delicious ethnic food.
Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood will transform into a hub of entertainment and celebration. The festival kicks off with the annual Juneteenth Parade taking place down East 26th Avenue, starting Saturday, June 18 at 11:00 AM. The fun continues with two full days of live entertainment and activities for all ages.
Photo courtesy Juneteenth Music Festival
Guests can look forward to an array of fun and interactive activities with Juneteenth Music Festival's fantastic group of 2022 partners such as Vibes in the Park, Popongo, Meow Wolf, Jack Daniels, and more.
Kids will enjoy activities from the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, and Colorado Mammoth in the JMF Youth Zone Presented by Chevron or catch a live youth boxing match courtesy of USA Boxing in association with the Denver Brotherhood of Police.
Learn about the holiday's meaning.
Here's a catchy kid-friendly song from Sesame Street that explains Juneteenth:
For older children, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's website offers good information about Juneteenth, including a reading list.
Looking for great kids' books about Juneteenth? We love Juneteenth for Mazie, about a little girl upset about restrictions like bedtime, and All Different Now, which tells the story of the day freedom arrived in Texas from a little girl's perspective.
Prepare a special meal together.
Coming together as a family for a special meal is a traditional way to celebrate Juneteenth. Use the opportunity to explain the importance and meaning of the holiday to your kids.
Want ideas on what to cook? Check this fun video from Thrillist out:
Think about positive changes you'd like to see.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is hosting a series of free virtual events this month to mark Juneteenth.
They suggest getting your kids involved and thinking about the meaning behind Juneteenth by drawing a picture, making a sign, or writing in a journal about the positive changes they want to see in the world and what they can do to help.
FatCamera via Canva
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture offers these conversation starters to help kids begin thinking about the project:
- Who or what is important to you?
- What's something you'd like to see changed in your community?
- What would your community be like if everyone was healthy, happy, and safe?
- Do you see a problem that needs to be fixed?
- Are there people who should be treated better? How?
- What can you do to make a difference, fix a problem, or help someone?