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Juneteenth: Federal Holiday...Now What?

Juneteenth has long been celebrated, in the black community, as the date in 1865 when Union soldiers told slaves in Galveston, Texas that they were emancipated two years earlier. The former slaves celebrated by feasting, dancing and singing. It was a glorious event thus the day is also known as "Freedom Day" or "Emancipation Day".

Following the announcement, the former slaves were now thought to be free and independent; however, the truth was a different reality. These freed slaves were essentially further enslaved and chained to a cycle of poverty. They left plantations and farms with shanty shacks with the clothes on their backs. These former slaves lacked education, they were not provided with jobs and/or training and they went from shacks to homelessness. Soon many of the newly freed people found themselves homeless, hungry and without basic resources. There most pressing concern was securing food and shelter forcing many black people into a different type of slavery including sharecropping, disenfranchisement, vagrancy and committing petty crimes to survive.

Based on the years of injustice and inequality that followed Emancipation and Reconstruction, I think the topic of Juneteenth should be celebrated by spurring conversations within all communities. The history of this country is complicated and the complexities should be dissected, discussed and awareness should be raised about the wealth gap between whites and blacks in America. The foundation of American wealth was built on the backs of slaves and subsequent generations of poor blacks. We can't ignore these truths.

Here are a few ways to celebrate Juneteenth but also uplift the black community:

1) Treat yourself and shop at Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth (AND EVERYDAY).

Pay attention to the brands that affirm and uplift our community on a daily basis.

Here are some of my favorite Black-owned businesses and organizations:

2) Good Vibes Only. Listen to some good music from Black Artists. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Anthony Hamilton: Charlene

  • Mary J Blige: Hello Gorgeous

  • Erykah Badu: Didn't Cha Know

  • Beyonce: Formatio

3) Read some real good books by dope black authors:

  • Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

  • The Water Dancer: A Novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • The Souls of Black Folks

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