Home » From concerts on the White House lawn to greeting cards, Juneteenth is a full-blown holiday

From concerts on the White House lawn to greeting cards, Juneteenth is a full-blown holiday

by The Grio

Once an obscure day celebrated predominantly in Texas, Juneteenth is emerging as a full-blown “greeting card” holiday. President Joe Biden hosted an early celebration this week, a concert on the White House’s south lawn featuring none other than Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle. Cities from Denver, Colorado, to Cincinnati, Ohio, have major events slated for the coming days. You can even find cards on Amazon now.

Since the day became a federal holiday in 2021, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories recognize it. This also means that more and more non-Black Americans have become aware of its significance. 

To gain a sense of how the day is unfolding in modern times, theGrio recently sat down with someone who grew up with a rich tradition around the day in Texas and someone who has recently adopted the holiday in her life. We discussed everything from the humor in celebrating it with non-Black people to how to continue to center Black joy as it evolves.

Alan Freeman, 61, who grew up celebrating Juneteenth in Texas, where it originated, recalled neighborhood block parties, grabbing plates of food from just about anyone’s house, and utter joy. 

“Juneteenth was such an electric holiday,” he said. “It was like the whole neighborhood was like a Cheech and Chong movie because there was so much barbecue smoke from everyone, because everybody, every family celebrated the holiday.”

After the day became a federal holiday, he said, Texas got even bigger and bolder with its celebration of June 19, the day in 1865 when the last of enslaved people in Confederate territory – those in Galveston Bay, Texas – learned they were free, about 2 1/2 years after the fact.

Before the federal designation, cities throughout Texas grew to develop rich traditions around commemorating Juneteenth with parades, barbecues, and other events. Since the designation, Galveston, where the holiday came to be, has joined in the fun….

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