Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Juneteenth! For those that aren’t aware of what Juneteenth is, this is a commemorative day in African-American history where slaves were finally free. Yes the Emancipation Proclamation was signed 2 years prior, but unfortunately not all states were “united”. On June 19, 1865, the final enslaved state, Texas, declared their slaves freed after General Gordon Granger commanded orders of the proclamation be in effect. While African-Americans recognize that July 4th is an important date for the Independence of America, Juneteenth is how we acknowledge and celebrate freedom, rights, and reflect on those before us as we live out the future that they prayed for. We still have quite a ways to go as a country to truly be considered “United” States, however, we’ve come a mighty long way as well. Americans historically have gone all out for St. Patrick’s day to celebrate the Irish, have a blast on Cinco de Mayo to celebrate Mexican victory & culture, and we are hopeful that Juneteenth will get more acknowledgment in years to come. This past week, I was pleasantly surprised at the diverse outpour of support for the African American community during this time and even more shocked at hearing some companies are declaring Juneteenth as a company holiday. Awesomeness! So in learning about Juneteenth, what do we do? How should we celebrate? Do we treat it like Black History Month or 4th of July? Do we wear the traditional red, white, and blue colors of the latest Juneteenth flag or the African heritage colors of red, black, and green? These are all very valid questions, especially considering that there aren’t many celebration supplies that can be at your local store for the holiday. I say, make it how you’d like to celebrate it. Whether you’d like to represent our heritage or represent the moment where we officially were acknowledged as Americans, do it in ways you love and create a tradition. And I wouldn’t be Yo! Mama without given you “some pocket change to take with you”, i.e. given you some ideas for how to even get the kids engaged.
Decorations: African heritage colors (red, black, green) tablecloths, plasticware, streamers, balloons; American/Juneteenth flag colors (red, white, blue) tablecloths, plasticware, streamers, balloons, stars;
Food: Typical BBQ/family reunion-type meals OR Soul food; Desserts for the kiddos could include red/white/blue Rice Krispy treats, Oreos dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles, and even a festive red/white/blue slush drink. (See Pinterest for tons of recipes)
Educational video: Here is a really nice visual breakdown that will help you and/or the kids better understand the meaning behind Juneteenth https://youtu.be/T2HAVuld0_0
Books: Juneteenth Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper, Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford, and even a great series of books for all year-round for your advanced reader, one of which called The STEAM Chasers: We Made That by Doresa A. Jennings.
Activities for the kids:
1. Coloring sheets – There are some of the Juneteenth flag (but they may require joining some teacher sites). For those of us who are not, there is a teacher blog with some free resources. Check this site out http://teacherblog.evan-moor.com/2020/06/16/celebrating-african-american-artists-and-writers-for-juneteenth/
2. BINGO - There are some pretty neat Black History Bingo sheet templates out there but I may be creating my own. Hit me up if you’d like a few templates and I’ll share to your Yo! Mama member mailbox.
3. Bubbles - Since it is the final day of science week for our summer program, we will be making bubbles from scratch as well as wands (out of pipe cleaners). For the ingredients of the bubbles, take a peek at my previous Science week post. We will blow the bubbles as we dedicate it to the angels who fought for our freedom.
4. Freedom ring – You can again use pipe cleaners or tinsel to make rings that look like fireworks. Visit https://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/fireworks-ring-craft.html for details
1. Double dutch – This was a staple activity in the urban African-American community and seems like it’s becoming a lost art. I promised myself I would not let my daughter grow up without knowing (or at least attempting to learn lol) how to jump rope.
2. All the family favorites - UNO, Dominoes, Black Deuce, Spades, Monopoly, etc. Have a blast!
3. Liberty Land – This is a game that I am whipping together that kind of reminds you of Monopoly meets the Game of LIFE. There will be giant dice (or die since I only have one), obstacles on the board spaces, and historical facts to learn from. I’ll try to post a pic of it a little later on.
Mental Health Break
Watch some documentaries or even some quality TV programs of the past that show the many talents of African Americans such as Black-ish (which has fantastic episodes by the way), Good Times, Family Matters, A Different World, and many more. Take a day off from watching the news or negative social media.
There are several African American owned business that are out there that you can support. Purchase a couple products or even share the link of their website or social media page.
If you have a chance to volunteer, dedicate some time to food banks, shelters, or donating to a local organization like Urban League. I will be starting up my annual school supply drive again pretty soon once we learn what all the needs are for this school year for inner-city students.
And if you’re interested in signing the petition to make this a national holiday, here’s a link https://www.change.org/p/united-states-congress-make-juneteenth-a-national-holiday-in-2020
I hope you have a fabulous Juneteenth! Speaking of fabulous, I’d like to give my fabulous sis-in-law Felicia an early happy birthday shout and many more!
Be safe & Love you all,
Yo! Mama Mesh