Juneteenth– Vitality



A Brief History, Ways to Celebrate, & Educational Resources

Juneteenth is a day of celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.

It marks the day that enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas received word of their freedom, and is the oldest national celebration of emancipation.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863, declaring the freedom of all enslaved people in the United States; however, news of the proclamation was slow to reach the far corners of the U.S., and in Confederate controlled states, it also proved difficult to enforce. It would take two and a half years and the end of the Civil War for slavery to across the nation to end.

On June 19, 1865, shortly after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and his Confederate troops, Union Major-General Gordon Granger delivered federal orders to Galveston, Texas declaring the end of the Civil War and the freedom of all remaining enslaved people. His words and the official order would soon be shared and re-printed across various outlets, finally putting into effect the Emancipation Proclamation nationwide.

For years to come, the freed people of Galveston, Texas and their families would celebrate the day they learned of their freedom: praying, spending time together, and for some who had left the state, trekking back to Texas annually to take part in the festivities. The annual June 19th emancipation celebration quickly gained traction and popularity, growing from small family gatherings to city-wide festivals, spreading across states and across the nation. Fast forward to today, and Juneteenth (“June 19th” combined) has finally – as of just a few days ago! – become a federal United States holiday.

Juneteenth is a day to celebrate – it represents a turning point in American history, a new chapter for African-Americans, and a beacon of hope and growth – but it also serves as a reminder that the fight for social justice and equality is far from over. Celebrate this day in history, and then take action. 

Celebrate with Your Community This Weekend. Here in Denver, Juneteenth celebrations are occurring all weekend long. Check out this list of events, rountables, broadcasts, and festivities put together by Denverite: 

Donate to social justice organizations, organizations that support the Black community nationally and in your city, local African-American history museums, community initiatives, support groups, and more. There are countless groups driving the movement for equality, and as much as we wish we could list every single one here, below are a few we support or have donated to:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Color of Change
Equal Justice Initiative
Thurgood Marshall Fund
The Bail Project
National Black Justice Coalition

Follow & Engage with organizations fighting for equality such as the few listed above, as well as leaders in the Black Community, Black-owned business, Black creators, politicians and others. Though there are hundreds of incredible organizations and individuals, some that stood out to us include: 

Check Your Privilege
Anti-Racism Daily
Brittany Packnett Cunningham (@mspackyetti)
Rachel Cargle (@rachel.cargle)
Ibram X. Kendi
Black Lives Matter

Support Black Creators & Businesses with more than just a social follow. Support requires action. Share their work or news about them, buy their products, and eat at their restaurants. Many local news outlets have gathered a list of Black-owned businesses and local creators that you can connect with and directly support.

For our Colorado locals, here’s a list of Black-owned business in the Denver-area

Read, Watch, Listen & Educate Yourself. Take the time to learn more about the issues facing African-Americans, this nation, and this world. Read, pay attention to the news, and listen to social justice podcasts or roundtables featuring prominent Black Americans. Here are just a couple educational resources to help you get started:

READ: So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo

LISTEN TO: Pod Save the People Podcast hosted by DeRay Mckesson. Harvard University has a collection of Anti-Racism Resources, and this one here offers a list of Anti-Racism Podcasts.

WATCH: When They See Us, Selma, and more. Check out this list of movies and shows to stream, put together by Glamour.com

NPR has also put together a list of books, films, and podcasts about racism, and hosts their own podcast that tackles race issues, Code Switch.

And lastly, Speak Out peacefully against social injustices and for equality for all. Stand up for those discriminated against and use your voice – your voice is more powerful than you may realize. Let’s show our support for the Black Community & work together toward a better tomorrow. 

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