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Article: Why We Celebrate Juneteenth

Why We Celebrate Juneteenth

At the Harlem Candle Co., Juneteenth is a day that holds special meaning in our hearts. It's an occasion to reflect on the hardships endured by our ancestors in this country, honor their resilience, and celebrate the richness of Black culture.

If you’re not familiar with the term “Juneteenth,” it’s a day celebrated on June 19th each year to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and marks the day when the news of their freedom reached the last remaining enslaved individuals in Galveston, Texas (which is only a 30-minute drive from where Harlem Candle Co. founder, Teri, grew up!).

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and read General Order No. 3, which declared that all enslaved people were free. This announcement effectively ended slavery in Texas and signaled the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation throughout the Confederate states.

Juneteenth is a day to honor the resilience, perseverance, and achievements of African Americans, as well as to acknowledge the historical struggles and ongoing fight for equality and justice. 

In 2021, Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in the United States.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

Not sure what to do on Juneteenth? That’s ok! As long as one embraces the meaning and spirit of the holiday, there’s no wrong way to celebrate. But if you’re looking to plan something, here are some great ways people celebrate Juneteenth: 

1. Community Gatherings

Many communities organize Juneteenth celebrations that include parades, festivals, and cultural events. These gatherings provide opportunities to connect with others, learn about African American history and culture, enjoy music and dance performances, and partake in various activities. 

2. Family Reunions 

Juneteenth is often a time for families to come together and celebrate their heritage. Family reunions may include barbecues, picnics, potluck meals, storytelling, and sharing family histories. It's a chance to strengthen family bonds and pass down traditions to younger generations.

3. Educational Events

Juneteenth is an occasion for learning and reflection. Some individuals and organizations organize educational workshops, lectures, panel discussions, or film screenings that focus on African American history, the legacy of slavery, civil rights struggles, and the ongoing pursuit of equality.

4. Artistic Expressions

Many people express their creativity through various forms of art during Juneteenth celebrations. This can include visual arts, spoken word performances, poetry readings, theatrical productions, and music concerts. Artists use their talents to convey the struggles, resilience, and triumphs of the African American community.

5. Community Service

Some individuals and groups choose to observe Juneteenth by engaging in community service projects that uplift marginalized communities. This can involve volunteering at local organizations, participating in neighborhood clean-ups, organizing food drives, or supporting initiatives that promote social and economic justice. 

6. Reflection and Contemplation

Juneteenth is also a time for introspection and reflection on the history of slavery, the progress made, and the work that still lies ahead. Many people take moments of silence, engage in prayer or meditation, or participate in discussions about racial justice and the fight against systemic oppression.

7. Supporting Black Businesses

If you’re reading this as a longtime customer of the Harlem Candle Co., we’re already so grateful for your love and support. And as a meaningful way to celebrate Juneteenth, we hope you’ll share that love and support with other small, black-owned businesses as well!