While most Americans use July 4th as a day to celebrate our slave-owning founding fathers, Black Americans are opting to mark the date of our actual ancestor’s freedom. Juneteenth has been a celebratory day for years within the Black community. However, as time went on, we saw less celebration and more silence on the meaning of the holiday. Conversation stirs back up around the holiday when Kenya Barris’ hit show Black-ish discussed the much forgotten holiday and reminded us that July 4th wasn’t our day of freedom within America. Now, more than ever, we are unified in celebrating the holiday and our cultural roots. But, for those who have never celebrated or forgot, we want to share five traditions we need to bring back to the cultural holiday.
Step Team Competitions
The purpose: Stepping derives from our ancestral roots in Africa also known as the “boot dance.” Today we see Black fraternities and sororities use it to compete with choreography and synchronized chants. Children also participate in the activity as young as five-years-old. It is more than a performative dance, it helps us connect back to the diaspora of Africa.
Community Block Party
The Purpose: Growing up, you knew your neighbors, your store owners, and your old nosey lady from across the street. The community felt like your safe place and you knew who had your back. It’s something we need to get back to and celebrate each other in a way that involves good food and laugh. A community block party helps bridge the gap of generations and reminds you that we are each other’s brothers and sisters at the end of the day. It can be a small cookout or a big gathering.
Honor Your Community Leaders
The Purpose: The leaders within your community work tirelessly to be a voice and provider for you. Whether it is your local teacher or a store owner. Remind your Black leaders that you see them and thank them for always providing their light unto you and the community around you.
Art Demonstrations By the Children
The Purpose: Children are the next generation that will carry on the traditions instilled in us. Host an art competition to show their love and pride in being the next generation of Black leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals, and more. Always raise the next community up together. Have local merchants hang the photos against the wall in a form of a mural or in their store walls.
Community Plays & Story Telling
The Purpose: Bringing our creativity together in the form of plays from Black playwrights allows us to see the variety of art forms within our community. It also allows us to pay homage to those creatives who broke the barrier by sharing stories from our previous generations and their experience. Find local plays within your area and see if it is kid friendly.
Celebrate Black history and culture on June 19th with your community. We also recommend you buy from your local Black owned merchants as well! Let’s continue to spread Black joy during these times.