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Jun 18, 2021 EXPLO Today

Juneteenth: Ways to Celebrate

Juneteenth is a day to honor and celebrate Black history, liberation, culture, and joy — and it's also a time to continue our anti-racist journeys.

Abby Leigh Curtis + Sam Osborn

Today in the wonderful world of EXPLO, our summer staff are thrilled to be moving onto the Wheaton, Sarah Lawrence, and Colby College campuses; but the whole team is also taking time to learn about, celebrate, and reflect on the history of this day we call “Juneteenth.”

June 19th, dubbed Juneteenth, is a day to honor and celebrate Black history, liberation, culture, and joy. With the past year seeing a long-overdue uptick in conversations around race and racism in the United States, Juneteeth is also a time to actively continue on our anti-racist journeys.

Host a Celebration

Galveston, where the holiday originates, boasts one of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations in the country. The celebration kicks off with a commemorative reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, followed by a prayer breakfast at Ashton Villa, a historic home built in 1859. 

No matter where you live, you can celebrate in your own way. Gather friends and family to share food and drink, listen to music, play games — whatever feels right.

Spread the Word

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia mark June 19 as a state holiday or observance, but Juneteenth still isn't a federal holiday.

This past week, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, but the House of Representatives will need to pass the measure before June 19 becomes an official holiday.

Here are three ways you can keep the momentum going:

Reflect

Juneteenth exists first and foremost as a relationship with labor. The day observes not just a rest from, but an active resistance to, monetized labor in its most oppressive and forced capacities. 

One opportunity of reflection is the relinquishment of working time, if even for a few minutes. Active self-emancipation from labor is what this holiday is all about.

Setting down work — and the liberation that action contains — is as active a process now as it was in 1865. Even if you're typically off on Saturdays, take a few moments to rest. Housework, homework, and any other work can wait.

Support Black Businesses

Many of us have been making a conscious effort to shop small + local, but taking it a step further and supporting Black-owned businesses — those who suffered over COVID or face discrimination in their communities — is another way to celebrate Juneteenth this year (and every year!). This Mashable article may help you get started.

Attend Events

Attending an event on or around Juneteenth — whether in-person or online — is a wonderful way to celebrate...and maybe you’ll even learn something!

Wherever you are today, we invite you to join us in a moment of gratitude for the strides we've made toward racial justice and equity  — and a moment of acknowledgment for all of the work still left to do.

Abby Leigh Curtis + Sam Osborn

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