June 19, 2022, is being observed as an annual federal holiday for only the second time. Although Juneteenth has only newly been demarcated as an official holiday, African-American communities have been celebrating this date for generations. After a lot of hard work, the event is now federally sanctioned and recognized. And now, organizers are hosting celebrations and festivities nationwide, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday also promotes the continuing struggle for justice and equity.
Here are ways you can celebrate Juneteenth this year while supporting organizations working to create an equitable and just society.
Celebrate at home or in-person
Given that the country was under lockdown for the better part of the past 20 months or so, for many people, the 2022 Juneteenth signifies a time for them to get back in touch with family and loved ones and enjoy the activities they took part in before the Covid-19 pandemic. You too can join communities and celebrate the day either online or in person.
At 8 PM ET on June 19, CNN will be broadcasting live from the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, a mega inaugural event – Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom. The event is produced by Black creators Jesse Collins Entertainment and Shawn Gee of Live Nation Urban. It is a concert, and it will celebrate Juneteenth, focusing on the ongoing struggle for equality among the Black community.
There will also be a pre-show coverage of the event beginning at 7 PM ET. In this coverage, Don Lemon from CNN will felicitate and honor Black advocates and artists engaged in correcting the inequality that is rampant in the community. The work that still remains to be done in the fight against racial injustice will also be highlighted as part of the celebrations.
Other Juneteenth celebrations happening this week
- In Washington, DC, Pharrell Williams will be hosting his “Something in the Water Festival” on Independence Avenue, over the Juneteenth weekend. Held over three days, the festival will feature performances by Pharrell, Anderson Paak, and SZA, among others.
- In Denver, Colorado, the city will host its Juneteenth Music Festival. It will register fifty thousand participants every year. A celebratory parade will kick off the two-day event. Participants can visit block parties, live entertainment and retail shopping featuring local vendors. The proceeds from this festival will go towards the economic empowerment and upliftment of youth and young adults.
- New York City sees the Tribeca Film Festival hosting its Juneteenth Program with the aim of celebrating Black stories and uplifting the voices of Black storytellers. The festival’s content will include podcasts, talks, music, and films. For people living outside New York City, the Tribeca Film Festival will offer content online as well.
- The Juneteenth Foundation plans to start its series of events with an inaugural Juneteenth Honors Awards ceremony. It will take place at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. This ceremony will highlight Black excellence, their history, and the achievements of African American luminaries. The foundation will also hold a golf tournament for celebrities, an online career fair, and a freedom festival block party that promotes Black businesses. With the help and support of agencies partnering with the foundation, it will host a Juneteenth Father’s Day reception that aims to celebrate Black fathers.
Relive history in its truest form
Live and in-person events are being held by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. These events offer educational opportunities that celebrate the lives and the civic contributions of African American ancestors toward a more equitable future in a highly engaging manner. The goal is also to show that people throughout history have always strived to improve their lives.
This year’s theme is “Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sounds, and Experience of an African American Celebration.” The events also feature an exploration of cuisine, civic engagement and culture.
Work towards equity and justice through education
The various organizations that fight the good fight for equity through education and empowerment need your involvement to create a larger impact on communities in the United States. Here’s how you can contribute to this effort as well:
- The 100 Black Men of America group exists to bring about true change in society by giving importance to the next generation. This non-profit organization uses the power of mentorship to develop and nurture youth and young adults and transform them into leaders who are eager to bring about change wherever they are and are capable of doing so as well. The organization has four cornerstone principles – mentoring, health/wellness, education, and economic empowerment.
- National Urban League strives to help African Americans advance through equality, economic empowerment, and social justice. The organization has been promoting the advancement of Black Americans since 1910 through a number of national and community initiatives in education, job training, workforce development, and civic engagement. There is also a mentorship program for African American teens and children.
- The Thurgood Marshall College Fund promotes the educational qualities and excellence of Black youth. This organization offers scholarships, employment, internships, and leadership development. According to its claims, it is “the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community.”
Bring about reform in criminal justice
According to the Equal Justice Initiative, mass incarceration is “the civil rights issue of our time”. A study from the Sentencing Project shows that Black Americans face incarceration almost 5 times as much as White Americans in state prisons. This is due to the rampant racial injustice and disparity that plague the system. Here are some of the other organizations that are fighting for equality in criminal justice:
The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR)
Their goal is to transform the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The organization works with government organizations and agencies to reduce violence and incarceration. It also helps those stuck inside the systems to find a way out through training workshops, research, and advocacy.
The Sentencing Project
This group tries hard to create a more “fair and effective criminal justice system”. It also strives to bring an end to extreme sentences. They work with partners in various regions to invest in the development of communities. Their aim is to prevent youth from becoming part of the adult criminal system. At the same time, the group also calls for alternatives within the juvenile justice system.
The Equal Justice Initiative
The group seeks to prevent mass incarceration, racial inequality, and excessive punishment from continuing. It offers legal representation since many individuals charged with crimes don’t have the resources to defend themselves properly. This can lead to them getting a wrongful conviction. The organization is also a major part of the research on prison conditions, reform of criminal justice and educating the public about racial injustice in America.