On June 19, 1865 – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation – the Union Army came to Galveston, Texas to announce that all enslaved people were now free. A wave of jubilation came over those most affected by this order as the final thread of chattel slavery was cut in America. Many Black people left their plantations to find true freedom in northern states and create a new paradigm for Black status. While Black communities have experienced more freedom since this historic moment, the ramifications of slavery still affect them today. The Black experience is still tied to slavery, signaling a sobering statement that freedom is not yet fully won.
We take this day of Juneteenth to listen and learn from Black experiences so that we can be effective allies in the fight for justice and collective liberation. If you’re looking to learn too, our team put together a list of Juneteenth experiences and opportunities to share:
- Learn more about the history of Juneteenth here.
- Rabbi Sandra Lawson, a chaplain at Elon University in North Carolina, and Tema Smith, a contributing columnist at The Forward, will talk with Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren, about the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, and how Jews are — and should and could be — marking it this year. Find more information here.
- Juneteenth Kabbalat Shabbat with Sixth & I Synagogue, celebrate Juneteenth and Shabbat with Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll. During this service organized by Be’chol Lashon, Jews from all over the world will gather in song and prayer as they celebrate the fullness of the Jewish people and pledge to work toward justice in the world. Learn about the event here.
- Queer Moishe House Pod San Diego: Liberation 2.0: A Juneteenth Variety Show. This event is a Zoom variety show celebrating all forms of Black art. Register for the event here.
- Join a jubilant and joyous, Black led, multicultural celebration of Juneteenth. Featuring Tituss Burgess, Rosario Dawson and more! The event will be an homage to the 400 years that Black people have lived in this nation, the program will non-linearly jump through our past and present, highlighting Black resistance, resilience, healing and joy. (Free tickets, but also accepting donations) Register for the event here.
- In celebration of Juneteenth, listen to 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America via Rebecca Carroll’s Come Through podcast. https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/come-through
- The DC Public Library is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration! The virtual program will feature African drumming, spoken word, and activist speakers. Learn more here.
- Interested in having your children learn about Juneteenth? The Brooklyn Public Library is offering a session with books, songs and rhymes celebrating the holiday. Learn more here!
- Live streaming from the Portsmouth African Burying Ground, members of the African drumming and dance group Akwaaba Ensemble and Rev. Robert Thompson will honor the ancestors who survived the Middle Passage with traditional songs and dance. Register for this event here.
- The Old Globe, in collaboration with the George L. Stevens Senior Center, presents their fourth annual Juneteenth performance presentation as part of the Center’s annual Juneteenth festival. They are hosting this event on their digital platforms in honor of the day and as a fundraiser in benefit for the Center. Check out their Facebook event here.
- Learn more about Juneteenth from this Forward article titled, “Why Juneteenth – Which Marks The End Of Slavery – Should Be A Jewish Holiday.” Read the article here.
- What could the future look like if Black people’s thoughts – and their existence in America – were held in the highest regard? Listen in as artist, activist, and facilitator, Alicia Walters creates a gathering for Black people to dream and shows us how we can all witness, honor and protect those dreams. Listen to the podcast here.
- Bend the Arc put together a map of 100+ in-person and online events this weekend, including events that Bend the Arc leaders are joining from Long Island to Oakland and from Pittsburgh to Albuquerque. Find an event near you here, plus information on the movement’s demands, COVID-19 health guidance, and how to support from home.