On 19 June 1865 Union General Gordon Granger proclaimed in Galveston, Texas, the federal government’s decree that all previously-enslaved people in Texas were free; this proclamation was read over two and a half years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln on 1 January 1863.
It is this call to liberation which prompted the celebration of Juneteenth and, as of 17 June 2021, has become the latest federally-observed holiday in the United States of America.
There are many ways in which your congregation can honor and celebrate this holiday – and its commemoration of freedom – by being and acting in solidarity with African American members of your congregation, denomination, and in society at large. We invite you to do so in ways that move us from reflection and remembrance to allyship and action.
Below is a list of a few opportunities – both online and in-person – for you and your congregation to join in reflection, learning, action, and celebration:
- Check out this online and recorded Celebration of Juneteenth! Sponsored by The Colors of Pride, a collaborative program that offers congregations the opportunity to take a public stand of support for equality during Pride Month. The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) is proud to serve as a co-sponsor of this program;
- View the many Juneteenth resources and programs available from The National Museum of African American History & Culture, A Smithsonian Museum;
- Bishop Yvette Flunder, a former CLGS Harkness Lecturer, will be guest preacher at a Pride Eucharist on Sunday, 26 June 2021, at The Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC;
- Check out this article by Professor Johari Jabir: “Now Let Us Sing! Juneteenth 2021 [and] The Deep Roots Connecting Jewish and Black Prophetic Witness”;
- Read Derrick Bryson Taylor’s article “So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth?” in The New York Times;
- The website Juneteenth.com provides some good suggestions on “How to Celebrate” Juneteenth;
- Watch PBS’ Juneteenth Jamboree: From a Free Place to Displace;
- Check out this piece by Joicelyn Dingle in Ebony Magazine: “Juneteenth: Explaining an Unsung Holiday (Menu and Playlist included)”;
- And here are “15 Books & Other Resources to Celebrate Juneteenth” recommended by the Drexel University Libraries.