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Today is Juneteenth, a day devoted to commemorating the abolition of slavery. However, as the uprisings following George Floyd’s murder have continued to sweep the nation, the conversation around Juneteenth has changed somewhat. Some are using the day’s celebration of the 13th Amendment to point to the existence of modern-day slavery, and others are hoping that people use the occasion to continue the ongoing fight for Black lives. Here are five ways to honor Juneteenth today.
1. The traditional way: community gatherings
Often, Juneteenth is celebrated via community gatherings such as block parties, parades, sports games, singing competitions, and recitations of the Emancipation Proclamation that formally ended slavery in the U.S. Many communities throughout the community, especially cities, will have local Juneteenth celebrations in which you can partake. Others may have protests you can join.
2. The 2020 way: Join a protest
Many experts argue that the wording of the 13th Amendment permits legalized slavery in the form of unpaid prison labor. Given the recent protests in support of the Movement for Black Lives, many organizations have put together Juneteenth protests to help the movement continue to push forward. If you want to join a Juneteenth protest, you may be easily able to find one near you through a simple social media search or by using a search engine.
3. The stay-at-home way: Read and watch
If you don’t want to leave home for Juneteenth, you can educate yourself on the 13th Amendment and the civil rights movement from home. Over the past month or so, many activists and social media users have spread lists of educational resources including movies, books, TV shows, articles, and more. You don’t have to let the pandemic stop you from honoring Juneteenth – your Netflix subscription, for example, gives you access to plenty of relevant viewing.
4. The future way: Put together a voting plan
In many U.S. states, presidential and congressional primaries are still days or weeks away. Many activists claim that voting for progressive candidates, whether incumbents or newcomers, is an important step in the long-term battle for civil rights and equality. You can thus honor Juneteenth by looking toward the near future and putting together a voting plan. Whether this plan involves literally setting up transportation to and from nearby polling places for your friends and neighbors or just convincing them to go out and vote on their own, piecing together your voting plan today could prove time well spent for Juneteenth.
5. The other future way: Push to make Juneteenth a national holiday
Despite its historical significance, Juneteenth is not yet a national holiday, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become one. MLK Day, for example, didn’t become a national day of service until 17 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Following several state governments and political leaders officially designating a holiday in the civil rights leader’s honor, President Ronald Reagan did the same on a national level in 1985. If you want to see Juneteenth become a national holiday, take the time today to pressure your local and state governments to take the initiative – later, the federal government could follow.
How will you celebrate Juneteenth today? Sound off in the comments!