We know what happened on the 4th of July and we’re vaguely aware of the meaning behind St. Patrick’s Day, but what about Juneteenth? Often excluded from school teachings and textbooks, June 19th is a pivotal point in American history, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. We, as a society, landmark various historical occasions with gatherings and celebrations, and a handful of local organizations are doing just that—providing spaces to boast all facets of Blackness in light of where Black America has been and where it’s going.
Before we tell you how to celebrate, I want to make sure you understand what you’re celebrating.
On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, TX, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Orders, Number 3, demanding the emancipation of enslaved African Americans TWO WHOLE YEARS after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. As you can imagine, many masters weren’t quick to abide by their new laws, but for the first time in history, the black community had a date that was ours. Despite all fears, frustrations, and further discrimination that would be felt, the last of our ancestors were given their golden ticket to freedom—and if that doesn’t call for a celebration, I don’t know what would.
A Tour of Possibilities Caravan Tour Launch – Saturday, June 19
Experience the richness of Memphis’ history through an African American historical perspective traditional tours don’t provide. Follow the ATOP van in your own vehicle, caravan style, as you weave the history of this incredible city through the neighborhoods of Memphis.
Juneteenth: Freedom, Justice, Democracy – Friday, June 19
The National Civil Rights Museum is joining forces with five other African American museums and historical institutions to launch a digital commemoration of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience – Friday, June 19
100 Black Businesses from 20 cities around the country are gathering in one virtual place to deliver a virtual shopping experience that our ancestors would be proud of. There’ll be art, housewares, baked goods, neckties, wines, and more for you to choose from.
Juneteenth Heal Thyself Spiritual Event – Friday, June 19
Head to the Heal Thyself Spiritual Convention Center to share in the commemoration of such a momentous day. Bring your own food or favorite dish to share, plus bring something to plant in the garden of love.
Free ‘Em All Virtual Juneteenth Celebration – Saturday, June 20
Join the official Black Lives Matter Memphis chapter in the virtual world as they partner with Royal Studios and Center for Transforming Communities to celebrate the legacy of Juneteenth with performances, talks, and and more.
If you can’t make it or tune in to any of these happenings, there are many ways your can support the local black community on Juneteenth, and beyond.