Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and emancipation, and while it’s been a well-known holiday in Black communities in many parts of the country, it’s not as widely recognized in other areas. It was just recently declared a federal holiday, and is often celebrated as a second Independence Day on and around June 19.
So let’s learn: what is Juneteenth all about?
First, a history lesson: Although the Emancipation Proclamation was declared in 1863, word traveled slowly, and not every enslaved Black person knew they were free right away. It wasn’t until two years later – June 19, 1865 – that 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that slavery had been abolished.
Learn more about Juneteenth’s history here.
For years Juneteenth has been widely celebrated with parades, music, festivals, storytelling, family reunions, and of course lots of great food. Cookouts and potlucks are traditional, along with traditional southern food like beans, black-eyed peas, catfish, potato salad, fried chicken, and greens.
Toni Tipton-Martin wrote a great article about Juneteenth food traditions.
Red foods are a special Juneteenth tradition since the color red symbolizes the strength and resilience of enslaved people. Hot sauce, red velvet cake, strawberry soda, hot link sausages, watermelon, and strawberry slab pie are all common foods at Juneteenth gatherings.
Here’s Nicole Taylor’s recipe for Strawberry Slab Pie!
Most importantly, Juneteenth is a day to uplift Black voices, celebrate their achievements, and listen to their experiences!