June 19 marks an incredible milestone for black liberation. Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas – two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. This was also about 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
We are encouraged to recognize today as an opportunity to listen, learn, and act as we fight for progress and equality within our very own community. With the help of some of our employees, we have compiled a list of five ways you can celebrate Juneteenth in Tuscaloosa this year!
- Educate Yourself
One of the very best approaches to fully understand what Juneteenth means is to simply spend time listening and learning. We have the emerging Civil Rights Trail that collects, preserves, and tells the stories of the important struggle for civil rights in Tuscaloosa. The trail, museum, and other resources represent the historical honesty necessary for our community to prosper. Enjoy the summer sun and immerse yourself in the rich civil rights history of this city with this walking trail.
- Support Black-Owned Businesses
Another incredible way to celebrate this holiday is to support all of the amazing black-owned businesses right here in Tuscaloosa. Want to branch out and try something new? Check out Reggae Flava’s delicious, gourmet Jamaican cuisine! They also have fun drinks like the Frozen Pina Colada or the Blue Coconut Rum Runner. If your appetite is far from adventurous, check out the local staple Catfish Heaven. Although their dining rooms are closed, now is the perfect time of year to grab some wings to-go and enjoy the fresh air! For all black-owned businesses in town check out Young Tuscaloosa’s list!
- Listen and Learn
We really wanted a full collaboration for this blog, so some of our TTS family joined in on the conversation. So why is it so important to celebrate and recognize Juneteenth? According to Naytalia Douglas, our director of first impressions, any part of American history, good or bad, deserves to be recognized because it helps teach the future generation how to evolve as an entire community. Loretta Jones, our expert accountant, also shared advice for someone who wants to learn and better understand the meaning behind Juneteenth. Her suggestion is to “research, ask questions, and do not be afraid to empathize with the people around you.”
Don’t miss out on all of the Juneteenth celebrations this year! There is one at Snow Hinton Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. This free event, organized by West End Pop Up Festival, will feature food, music, and vendors. There is also a free family-friendly event in Kentuck Park, located in Northport, from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday. This celebration will include free food, inflatable bounce houses, games, activities, and a live radio broadcast by 105.1 The Block.
- Take Action
It is important to take time to learn about Juneteenth, but the holiday represents much more than education. Juneteenth represents the power of change. Educating yourself on our nation’s history can only take you so far. It’s the tactical actions that make a real difference! One way to embody the spirit of Juneteenth is to volunteer online with the United Nations and its “Let’s Fight Racism” initiative. Put your skills to work for a great cause. There are a plethora of ways you can volunteer, whether it be writing an article, developing a communications strategy, or even designing an infographic.
If you or your family and friends participate in a Juneteenth celebration here in Tuscaloosa, be sure to tag us in your photos! We’d love to share them.