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3 helpful tips for teaching kids about Juneteenth

Thairie Ritchie and Esabella Bonner
Thairie Ritchie and Esabella Bonner raise their fists during Luna HighJohn-Bey talk at the Juneteenth celebration in 2021 at London Nelson Community Center.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

You’ve probably heard a lot about Juneteenth in the last few years. Did you know that Juneteenth has been a holiday in the African-American community since 1865?

Hip hop artist Isaac Collins, aka Lyrical I hugs the young after his performance at the Juneteenth celebration in 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What exactly is Juneteenth? Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19th of 1865, when slaves in Texas learned about their freedom. This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1st, 1863.

Though slaves were free “on paper” after the 1863 proclamation, many were not aware of the news, especially in the states close to the southern border. Thus, Juneteenth represents the day when all slaves were free on-paper and in reality, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Initially a uniquely Texan observance, Juneteenth has become recognized in some form in every corner of the country. Now that it’s a federal holiday, you may want to share this historic moment in African-American history with the children in your lives.

Here are three tips for talking to children about the Juneteenth holiday- or as some call it, Freedom Day or Jubilee Day.

1. Before you can talk to kids about Juneteenth, you’ll need to educate yourself. There are a lot of resources you can choose from to learn about the history and the importance of June 19th, whether it be from books written for all ages, or through the many videos and podcasts available online. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has a great archive of resources as well as Bookshop Santa Cruz.

2. Share what you’ve learned with your young person. Remember to tailor your conversation; pick books and videos to read and look through together that are appropriate for their development as you explore and begin to develop an appreciation for African American history and culture through learning about the holiday. If the child is of an older age, you can acknowledge the hard history that led to Juneteenth and the resilient culture that infuses the holiday.

3. Celebrate together! Look for a Juneteenth event near you and go. The ability to participate in the games, enjoy the food, learn about the history and experience the feeling of celebrating freedom will likely make a lasting impression.

Santa Cruz Juneteenth 2022

Why not make this the year your family delves a little deeper into African-American History?

The 30th Santa Cruz Juneteenth Celebration will take place on June 18 from 12:00 to 5:00 PM at Laurel Street Park. This free celebration is a day filled with music, entertainment, a youth basketball clinic hosted by the Reggie Stephens Foundation, the infamous sack race, crafts, soul food vendors and more. Visit our website for more information.

  • Event
    Santa Cruz Juneteenth Celebration
    The 30th Santa Cruz Juneteenth Celebration will take place on June 18th from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, at Laurel Street Park. Visit our website for more information about this and other Juneteenth related events: Skate night, Trivia night, Meditation & Hike, and Liberation Paddle out.
    Saturday, June 18, 2022 - 12:00 PM

Sources: and Dayton Children’s Hospital

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