It’s okay if you don’t know what Juneteenth is. A lot of people didn’t until recently, or were only vaguely aware of its significance and meaning before the Black Lives Matter movement became mainstream in late May. If, like myself, you grew up in Texas, you are likely familiar with it already, but even many non-Black Texans only thought of it as a day specific to Black Americans, not of real import to anyone else.
But it’s not okay if, after all that’s happened in the last year, you choose to remain ignorant of it and don’t recognize its significance to all Americans.
Here’s a short but not exhaustive list of how you can commemorate and honor Juneteenth if you’re a non-Black ally:
- Understand the meaning of the day. Essence magazine offers a brief but powerful and sobering quick history of the proclamation in Galveston, Texas, by General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, announcing the emancipation of all slaves in the Lone Star State, as well as the decades of vicious violence and racism that followed.
- If you haven’t already, read important books about Black history and the Black experience in America. Here’s a great crowdsourced list of books, articles, podcasts, TV shows, and movies to get you started. Buy your books from Black-owned bookstores, or support local, independent bookstores right here in the Valley such as Lithic Bookstore.
- Make a donation to a nonprofit organization that supports Black lives and centers the Black experience in their mission. A number of organizations have been thrust into the spotlight the last few weeks, including some that may or may not at all be associated with Black communities and needs, so here’s one vetted list to help you in your research. If you are passionate about ending mass incarceration and its devastating effect on Black families and the poor, and you want to stay local, the Colorado Freedom Fund is a very worthy cause.
- Join Right & Wrong for a community BBQ this afternoon from 4:00-6:00 pm to celebrate Juneteenth! The event will be at Lincoln Park near downtown Grand Junction, and all are welcome. Educational stations depicting Black history will be available, and everyone is encouraged to bring a picnic meal and/or food contributions. Grills will be available for use.
- Don’t let your education about Black history and the Black experience in America end today. Make it a 3-day event and continue your education and allyship year-round
See you at the BBQ!