Monday, June 19, 2023

Juneteenth Observed Today

“With care and concerted effort, the Juneteenth holiday might rival Thanksgiving as a new communal ritual, highlighting the value of shared freedoms as our workweek tempo slows and personal rhythms align, even as we notice and cherish the treasure of each distinct celebration. In these right-size gatherings in parks, on blocks, at town greens and city squares, we can gain so much more than kitschy displays and logo T-shirts — loneliness dispelled, neighborhoods sustained and a torn national fabric slowly darned from the inside out.” (Juneteenth is Different Out West by Tiya Miles, New York Times, June 16, 2023)


Red foods and beverages are traditionally served at Juneteenth celebrations.

This is the third year when the USA has officially observed our newest National Holiday: Juneteenth, the 19th of June.. Like most national holidays, it is a day off for Federal workers. While the holiday has a long history of neighborhood, family, and community celebrations, and it’s been a state holiday in Texas since 1980, it seems new to many people because of its new national status.

A current LA Times article, “Where to dig into the vibrant history of red foods for the Juneteenth holiday" explains: 

“The holiday marks June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform all enslaved people within the state — estimated to be 25,000 — that they had been freed by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, nearly 2½ years after the order was given.

“The first Juneteenth celebrations were recorded in the state of Texas in 1866, describing family and church gatherings with tablescapes of vibrant summer fruits, fried fish and chicken, and poundcake. In the years to follow, festivities spread throughout Southern states and eventually made their way to the Midwest and both coasts.”

Why are red foods particularly traditional for this holiday? The color red in food and drinks (as illustrated in the photo above) was highly significant to the African ancestors of the American Black community (source),

“In Yoruba and Kenya, red can be representative of sacrifice, transition, and power, so it was only fitting that the color would be prominent in celebrating their freedom from enslavement years later.”

This article also cites author Adrian Miller, who says the significance of red beverages 

“…has to do with the prevalence of red corn, kola nut, and hibiscus, the latter of which were West African crops brought to America from the Caribbean during the Atlantic slave trade. Red corn was used to make homemade whiskey, hibiscus was used to make a tea called bissap, and kola nuts were crushed into a powder to create a natural energy drink and cold remedy that could also make bitter water palatable.”


For some original drink recipes see The Spruce Eats:
"13 Juneteenth Drinks by Black Food Bloggers: A Celebration of Heritage and Unity


Holiday Celebrations

Poster from the Detroit Public Library

The Pew Research Center notes the official progress of this holiday:

“This year, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia will legally recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday – meaning state government offices are closed and state workers have a paid day off – according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state human resources websites, state legislation and news articles. ConnecticutMinnesotaNevada and Tennessee have made Juneteenth a public holiday at the state level starting this year.”

Thinking Hard about Racial Justice

Juneteenth can be a celebration of freedom and justice for everyone. However, I would like to conclude this post with one sad thought: racial discrimination against Blacks in American life has been and still is a major problem. Recent researchers at the University of Chicago reviewed a number of well-constructed studies. Here is the bottom line:

“They found that discrimination impacts consequential endeavors and mundane tasks alike, from buying a home and applying to jobs to looking for a new church and using rideshare apps. Simply put, discrimination is everywhere.” (source)

Blog post © 2023 mae sander 


Iris Flavia said...

I had no idea of this date! How wonderful and despite your last words there is progress, I think and hope...

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Your post about Juneteenth is even more inclusive than my small bit I shared. Even though it's a national holiday, it seems few people are aware of it, except in Texas and certain circles. I think tRump did more to put Juneteenth on the map than even Biden who signed the bill making the date a national holiday. I remember when tRump made such a big deal about it one year while he was president.

I am so glad you shared this with us. People need to know about how disproportionate things still are for the black community. They may be able to sit at the lunch counter today, but that doesn't mean some people still won;'t sit at the counter next to them. Racial prejudice is still everywhere and it often hides under rocks and discriminatory laws. That is especially true of voting rights.


thecuecard said...

Thanks for the history of this new national holiday. Great day to celebrate Freedom.

eileeninmd said...


Juneteenth Day is a great new holiday!
All the states should be observing this holiday!
Take care, have a great new week!

Sharon Madson said...

I didn't realize all the history of this holiday. It came as a surprise to me this year. Thanks for sharing. Happy t Day.

My name is Erika. said...

Here in New Hampshire most new federal holidays are really down played for a few years, (don't ask me why, maybe all the free-staters we had in our state legislation until the last election). This year is the first year I've really noticed it mentioned here in New Hampshire. I did enjoy this post because I can't say I knew more than the basics about it. It should be celebrated because ending slavery was a huge deal. Happy T day Mae. hugs-Erika

nwilliams6 said...

Great post, Mae. Intolerance and indifference is sad in every way it manifests.

I didn't realize there was traditional color. Next year I will incorporate that in our day. Thanks for sharing.

Happy T-day and hugz

DVArtist said...

A very wonderful post Mae. I agree, that the hate against blacks is strong in America. However, the hatred that prejudice brings goes deeper than just blacks. We live in a sad world for sure.

Carola Bartz said...

Juneteenth is celebrated here in my town and I'm glad we do. When I look at the news discrimination toward Black people is still very wide spread in this country, and that people really don't know about Juneteenth speaks volumes. It is one of our most important holidays. Thank you for shining the light on it, Mae.

Darla said...

You write so well and express things so clearly. I have been aware of the celebrations for some time but not specifically about the red drink. Thank you for posting on an important issue.

J said...

Hi Mae, our son told us about this holiday when he rang, wondered why he wasn't at work.
Happy T Day Jan S

CJ Kennedy said...

Thanks for posting about the history, and the significance of foods that were/are used to celebrate the holiday. Happy T Day

Linda said...

I love the quote about “a torn national fabric slowly darned from the inside out.”

ashok said...

Have a great day!

Lisca said...

How interesting! I didn’t know. Thanks for all that info. I do hope that discrimination will get less and less as time goes on and the Archie Bunkers of this world grow old and die.
I really like the idea of red food and drinks. Is it strawberry season in the US? I like hibiscus tea. In Italy we called it Karkadé. Drank cold with lemon and slightly sweetened its delicious.
Happy T Day,

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

On Monday I met a friend in Galveston at a new mural that commemorates the event. There were a lot of families and individuals at the site.

Empire of the Cat said...

I'm aware of Juneteenth as a holiday. It's a good idea, though the name sounds weird. As for the discrimination, why can't we all just get along after all this time. Sorry for my lateness, I've been out all week. Happy belated T Day Elle/EOTC xx