Today is Juneteenth, a day to celebrate and recognize the freedom of enslaved people in America. We hope your Juneteenth celebrates the hope and joy this day brings and provides moments of reflection and conversation on America’s history.
What Is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the last Confederate state, Texas, began enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation - signifying the ended slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and informed the enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended.
What Is the Historical Significance of Juneteenth?
“Juneteenth is a reminder that emancipation was not one moment in time: the news about the Emancipation Proclamation (which outlawed slavery within Confederate states) and the Thirteenth Amendment (which abolished slavery throughout the country) came to African Americans in different parts of the United States at different times,” - Alaina Roberts, Ph. D, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh.
Why is it important to talk about Juneteenth?
Juneteenth gave people freedom, but it also gave them hope, something they had been longing for a long time. Sharing the history of Juneteenth offers an opportunity for kids to grow and understand how important it was for people who had been treated so badly for so long to begin to experience a whole new way of life, and that’s always something to celebrate.
How to continue the conversation with your family.
Juneteenth is an important celebration and historical day in our history, but continued conversations of United States history, race, and racism are still important. Opening the dialogue with your family, you’ll be more likely to know more about what they’ve seen, what they’re thinking about, what they’re wondering about.
We encourage you to meet your family where they are, use words the child can understand, and don’t overwhelm them.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know!” Be open to search for information or watch new videos with your family.
Always aim to leave your family feeling educated and empowered. Whenever possible, avoid leaving a child scared or confused.
To continue these conversations we wanted to share a few Juneteenth resources for you to explore the history, culture, and how to engage children in this holiday.