Celebrate Juneteenth with Your Kids

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 when word of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — which had been signed two years prior and freed all enslaved people — made its way to Texas.

A combination of the words “June” and “Nineteenth,” Juneteenth was first made an official Texas state holiday in 1979, but since then, people have begun to honor the day (also called Emancipation Day) all around the United States.

Juneteenth is a day for African Americans and Blacks to honor their culture and history, as well as a day for non-Blacks to learn more about this significant day in our country, including why it took over two years for the news to get to Texas and how freed slaves were treated as a result. Above all, it’s a day meant for self-reflection, understanding the truths of the past and the realities of the present.

Here are some ideas for ways to Celebrate Juneteenth with Your Kids:

Read and Learn About Juneteenth as a Family

Celebrating this holiday is only meaningful if you understand what’s being celebrated. Start off by checking out some of the many books that have been written about this holiday and discuss them as a family! If you can’t get your hands on these before June 19, there’s a good chance you can listen to readalongs of some of these on YouTube.

Picture Books & Young Readers

Chapter Books / Teens

Juneteenth for Mazie By Floyd Cooper
Juneteenth for Mazie

Create a Juneteenth Feast

Juneteenth Feast

Red foods — a symbol of the resilience and ingenuity of enslaved people — are customary on a Juneteenth table. Strawberries, watermelon, red-colored juice, cherry pie, red velvet cake, sausages, hot dogs and barbecue are just some of the red-hued foods you can include in your feast. And don’t forget the soul food: fried chicken, collard greens, mac & cheese. Is your mouth watering yet? Let your kids help you make the menu and decorate the table, and then discuss the significance and history behind the meal you’re sharing.

Make Juneteenth Decorations

You can honor and learn more about this holiday through decor! Do research into where enslaved Blacks came from and honor those places by making a banner of African flags at home with construction paper. Or make your very own Juneteenth flag.

Visit a Juneteenth Celebration 

Cincinnati's National Underground Freedom Center
Cincinnati’s National Underground Freedom Center

As we move into summer and are able to participate in group activities outside, here are some fun Juneteenth celebrations happening in Southwest Ohio.

This year’s Cincinnati Official Juneteenth Parade on June 19th theme is “Legacy” which celebrates the rich and enduring history of African Americans while also recognizing the importance of inclusivity and diversity in our community. We want to emphasize the importance of leaving a legacy that reflects the values of diversity and inclusivity, and we are asking all participants to consider what kind of legacy they want to leave behind.

For Family By Family and The City of Florence Presents 1st Annual Juneteenth Event on Monday, June 19th at 9:00am-5:30pm. The Memorial and Educational Ceremony will begin at the KY historical Proclamation site of the First African American Church in Florence, Kentucky at 10AM. Then continue to have a Celebration of Juneteenth at Stringtown Park at 12PM. This year’s theme for Juneteenth is “Discover your Roots.”

Get ready for an epic Juneteenth extravaganza on June 19 from 8p-12a as WARMTH Culture hosts its Free Peoples Party at Lost & Found. Honoring the importance of Black culture and the artistic contributions made by Black creators, mix, mingle and dance as you listen to a diverse mix of House Music from DJs Rah D., Jesse James and Bryston Bryant. As the music plays, engage in conversations with fellow party-goers about the genre’s Chicago and New York lineage and its profound impact in the Black community. As the night unfolds, grab a drink from the Lost & Found bar and enjoy the fl authentic flavors of street tacos prepared by local eatery, Pata Roja Taqueria. Discover the pulsating sounds of House Music and its history during WARMTH Culture’s Free Peoples Party.

  • Wade in the Water
    On June 11th dance along or across the Ohio River to remember the importance of water to the 400+ year journey into and beyond enslavement.
  • Raising the Juneteenth Flag
    From June 13-16 the Cincinnati Art Museum, Hamilton County Courthouse, and the Cincinnati City Hall will all participate in raising the Juneteenth flag.
  • Cincinnati’s Juneteenth Festival
    Performer Praise E Keng

    This festival will take place in Eden Park on June 17th from 12-9:00pm. Entrance is free and the festival will feature 2 stages of great music, a supervised children’s area, historical re-enactors, art, fun, and fun!

  • June Fest: A Father’s Day Concert
    The concert is will take place Sunday, June 18th in Eden Park from 2-6:00pm. June Fest will feature a variety of inspirational and spiritual music to celebrate over 100 years of music performed by African American musicians here.
  • Juneteenth Parade
    Make sure to make your way to downtown Cincinnati on June 20th to see bands, clowns, dignitaries, and more!
  • Troy’s Juneteenth Walk and Celebration
    The walk begins on Saturday, June 17th at Brukner Park in Dayton, OH at 3:00pm. Don’t forget to participate in the celebration following at Race & McKaig Park from 4-6:30pm!
  • Springboro Juneteenth Jubilee 
    Take part in this second annual family friendly event at the North Park Amphitheater in Springsboro, Ohio from 12-9:00pm on June 15-17, 2023. The celebration will include live music, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a Freedom Ride cycling event, Underground Railroad tours, food trucks, prizes, and more!

Check out the official Juneteenth website for additional resources, history, ideas and more!

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