Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is a 157-year-old celebration that recognizes the life-changing, historical day when enslaved Texans found out they were free. On June 19, 1865—about two months after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia—Union soldiers went to Galveston, Texas to deliver the news that all previously enslaved people were now free.
This significant news came to Texas two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Due to the limited number of Union troops in the region during the Civil War, news had been delayed or withheld.
Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1865 and has been celebrated in several ways across the country ever since. Last year, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth as a nationally-recognized federal holiday.
This year, the Heersink School of Medicine’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion put together a few different ways to reflect on Juneteenth by learning, celebrating, and honoring the date.
Ways to honor Juneteenth this year
Learn about Juneteenth by listening to a 2021 episode of ‘The Checkup' podcast,’ where CEO and Dean Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, interviews Annisa Latham-Brown, filmmaker and cultural advocate, and Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., professor in the Department of African American Studies in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. They discuss the history of Juneteenth, ways to celebrate, and the future of this tradition.
Check out one of the Smithsonian’s free streaming events including a musical jazz experience and discussion on the politics of memory and memorializing.
Read to understand and learn the stories of Black/African American lives throughout time. Cultivate a Juneteenth reading list. Here are a few to start:
• On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
• Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
• Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
• Homegoing by Huntsville author Yaa Gyasi
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is hosting a day-long jubilee featuring guest speakers, activities, a photography exhibit, live music, and more. The BCRI says this event will have something for everyone, so mark your calendar for the camaraderie on Saturday, June 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more.
One of the longest-standing traditions for Juneteenth is feasting on classic meals served on the holiday. New York Times Cooking expert Nicole Taylor put together a list of timeless Juneteenth recipes including strawberry slab pie and savory corn fritters. Get all 45 recipes here.
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