The History of Juneteenth: How to Celebrate It & Activities for Kids

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Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is a significant milestone in American history that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery, marking a pivotal moment of liberation. Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a time for reflection, education, and celebration of African American heritage. In this article, we explore the history of Juneteenth and provide ideas on how to commemorate this important occasion with meaningful activities for kids.

The History of Juneteenth: How to Celebrate It & Activities for Kids

Understanding the History of Juneteenth:

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19, which is the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all enslaved people in the state were free.

The Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, had declared that all enslaved people in the Confederate states were free. However, it took more than two years for the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach all enslaved people in the United States. In Texas, the news of freedom did not arrive until June 19, 1865.

When the Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, they read General Order No. 3, which proclaimed that all enslaved people in Texas were free. The news of freedom was met with joy and celebration by the formerly enslaved people. They held parades, barbecues, and religious services to mark their freedom.

Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas ever since. In the early years, the holiday was largely celebrated by African Americans. However, in recent years, Juneteenth has become more widely celebrated by people of all races. It is now a state holiday in Texas and in 47 other states. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the end of slavery and to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight for racial equality. It is also a day to remember the sacrifices that have been made by African Americans in their struggle for freedom.

Celebrating Juneteenth:

Organize a Community Gathering: Bring together friends, family, and neighbors for a community celebration. This could include music, dance performances, guest speakers, and traditional African American food.

Attend Local Juneteenth Events: Many cities and towns hold Juneteenth parades, festivals, and educational programs. Check local listings for events in your area and participate in the festivities.

Learn and Share the History: Engage in discussions about Juneteenth with your children, friends, and family. Educate them about the significance of this day and its historical context. Share stories and experiences to foster a deeper understanding.

Create Artwork: Encourage children to express their creativity by making Juneteenth-themed artwork. They can draw or paint scenes that depict freedom, equality, or important figures in African American history. Display their artwork at home or share it with the community.

Read Books: Explore children's literature that focuses on Juneteenth and African American history. Some recommended titles include "All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom" by Angela Johnson and "Juneteenth for Mazie" by Floyd Cooper.

Cook Traditional Recipes: Prepare and enjoy traditional African American dishes with your family. Recipes like gumbo, cornbread, collard greens, and sweet potato pie are popular choices.

Visit Museums and Historical Sites: Take a trip to museums and historical sites that highlight African American history. Learn about important figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Rosa Parks, who played significant roles in the fight for freedom and equality.

Volunteer and Support Local Organizations: Engage with local community organizations that promote social justice and equality. Consider volunteering your time or supporting their initiatives to make a positive impact.

Watch Documentaries and Films: Explore documentaries and films that shed light on the history and struggles of African Americans. Examples include "13th," "Selma," and "Eyes on the Prize."

Reflect and Plan for the Future: Juneteenth is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made towards equality and justice, while also recognizing the work that still needs to be done. Engage in conversations about racial justice, allyship, and how to contribute to a more inclusive society.


Juneteenth is a time to celebrate freedom, honor the resilience of the African American community, and continue the journey towards equality. By understanding the history of Juneteenth and engaging in meaningful activities with our children, we can ensure that the significance of this day is preserved and passed on to future generations. Let us use this occasion as a catalyst for education, reflection, and advocacy for a more just and equitable society.


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