what is juneteenth and how to celebrate

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Juneteenth 2021: The best ways to celebrate Freedom Day

What is Juneteenth? Take a peek at our guide on how to commemorate the June 19 national holiday

There was a new momentum surrounding the celebration of Juneteeth last year. 

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Following George Floyd’s murder and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, more people recognized the holiday, celebrated it, and commemorated the day in new ways, with some corporate companies even getting into the mix and recognizing it as a paid holiday for employees. 

After Congress passed a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday, President Joe Biden signed that bill into law on Thursday and made it official, which means most federal employees will have the day off tomorrow. 

What is Juneteenth?

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Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States

In case you missed it, Juneteeth, also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or Jubilee Day, is a special celebration on June 19th that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is a symbolic day of liberation that celebrates freedom for all people living in the country. 

Although President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 as the official end of slavery, it didn’t stop there. African descendants were still enslaved years after that, and it wasn’t until the December 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment on June 19, when slavery was legally ended in all states. 

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At the time, approximately 250,000 people were still being held in slavery in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston to announce that the Civil War had ended and all of the slaves had been freed. The day became known as Juneteenth.

But that freedom wasn't all that free. Although slaves were no longer legally allowed to be held in captivity, it was just the beginning of decades of racism and discrimination to come for African Americans in the United States, and the fight for true equality still continues today.  

Is Juneteenth a national holiday?

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A Juneteenth celebration in NYC last year

Juneteeth became a national holiday on Thursday.

Before that, 45 states and Washington D.C. recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday, but it wasn't recognized as a national holiday just yet. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday and then it headed to the House of Representatives, where it passed on Wednesday. President Biden signed it into law Thursday. 

So, how can you celebrate Juneteeth?

Consider it not only a celebration of freedom, but also a tribute to black culture as well. Take a peek at our guide below on a few ideas for ways to celebrate the holiday.

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Support and shop black-owned businesses

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Support black-owned businesses on Juneteenth: Like Stella Jean, Jessica Rich, and 241 Cosmetics

Consider buying a product from a black-owned business on Juneteeth. 

Beyoncé made a major move last Juneteenth that took small black-owned businesses from obscurity to the spotlight when she launched her Black Parade song and a “Black Parade Route” on her website, which features black-owned businesses.

And she wasn’t the only one. Major retailers like Revolve, Sephora, Net-a-Porter, and many others went on to join fashion designer Aurora James’ 15 percent pledge to commit 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses. 

Companies like Homebody CBD, Andrea Iyamah, Unsun Sunscreen, Nubyen, and Topicals were just a few that landed shelf space virtually and in-store on those retailers.

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Homebody CBD Amethyst Soak, $42, Revolve

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andrea-iyamah-robe

Andrea Iyamah Sarina Robe, $210, Revolve

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unsun

Unsun Mineral Tinted Sunscreen, $29, Dermstore

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topicals-like-butter-mask

Topicals Like Butter Mask, $32, Sephora

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Nubyen X Revolve Mind Top, $50, Revolve

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Nubyen x Revolve Surplice Front Legging, $90, Revolve

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Check out the superstar singer's Black Parade route for a wide range of businesses to support, like Look Good Live Well, and give extra love to businesses that haven’t landed on major shelves yet too - or on Bey’s coveted list like Oprah-loved 241 Cosmetics.

Patronize a black-owned restaurant

Grab food to go or dine in at a local black-owned restaurant. Grubhub launched a new black-owned restaurants search tool this year, and Uber Eats launched one as well. It makes it easier to track down black-owned restaurants in your area.  

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Book a black-owned hotel for your next vacation

In line with supporting black-owned businesses, consider searching for a black-owned hotel the next time you book a vacation. We haven’t seen a black-owned hotel search tool on major booking sites, just yet. 

CN Traveler created a list of some of the hotels around the world travelers have swooned over, including, Negril Tree House Resort in Negril, Jamaica, and the Copper Door B&B in Miami. 

Negril Tree House Resort, Rooms start at $149, Expedia

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Copper Door B&B, Prices Vary, Expedia

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Support black creators

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Actress Tiffany Haddish talking to a crowd at a Juneteenth event last year

 If there’s a creator you admire on social media, follow them, and if they have merch or create works of art, buy it. Take time to identify and connect with new black creators that fall within your interests too. 

Celebrate the day with friends

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Chance the Rapper and friends attended a Juneteenth celebration in Chicago last year

There will be Juneteenth celebrations around the country, so keep an eye on social media and local media outlets in your area like Thrillist, which list things to do on holidays. 

You can also host your own Juneteenth celebration with a picnic or small party at home.

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