4 ways to celebrate Juneteenth with kids with Karimah Henry

Guest contributor: Karimah Henry of Crafting a Fun Life

Juneteenth is the celebration of the day the last group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they were free on June 19, 1865. Now that it’s officially a federal holiday in the United States, families are looking for ways to celebrate and recognize the history of Black people in America. 

My family enjoys making fun crafts and supporting Black-owned businesses. We also look forward to eating a delicious meal and just spending time together. Here are 4 ways to celebrate Juneteenth with your kids. 

Learn about Juneteenth

You can purchase books about Juneteenth or go on a field trip to your local library. It’s also a great idea to find books that have diverse characters to celebrate this important holiday. My kids really enjoy "Juneteenth for Mazie." It’s a story about a young girl who learns about the day her ancestors were no longer enslaved. She’s ready to celebrate liberty with her family! My kids enjoyed how the kids in the book enjoyed eating barbecue and drinking strawberry pop to celebrate Juneteenth. It reminds them of how we celebrate as a family. Another great book is "Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free." This is a true story of an activist who spent decades urging people to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. This is a great introduction for anyone who wants to learn about Juneteenth. Kids will learn about using their voices for positive change. 

Here are some questions to ask your kids: 

What day is Juneteenth celebrated? 

● What does Juneteenth celebrate? 

● When did Juneteenth become a federal holiday? 

● How can we make positive changes in our community? 

Enjoy a family feast

Holidays are always about cooking a special meal. We enjoy making Southern classics like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese as well as some Caribbean food like fried plantains to celebrate Juneteenth. Red foods such as red velvet cake, watermelon and punch are also great additions to the celebration. Like most patriotic holidays, you can’t go wrong with barbecue food, so fire up the grill. Make sure the kids help out in the kitchen or decorate the table. You can also give them the responsibility of creating the menu by having them select from certain food items. When I need a great recipe for soul food, I check out Jaclyn with Grandbaby Cakes. Her macaroni and cheese and fried chicken recipes never disappoint. 

Create crafts

My kids enjoy creating crafts to celebrate Juneteenth. We made a cardboard flag that was designed by Ben Haith, who incorporated the colors of the American flag into it. There’s a star in the middle that pays homage to Texas, while the red and blue represent a new freedom and a new people. However, many people celebrate Juneteenth using the Pan-African flag, so we created this easy craft stick flag. It represents the people of the African Diaspora and symbolizes Black liberation in the United States. These DIY confetti poppers are the perfect finale for a full day of fun. 

Have a movie night

Grab your favorite snacks and watch movies or short films to celebrate Juneteenth as a family. You can create a kid-friendly red, white and blue (Juneteenth flag) or red, black and green (Pan-African flag) charcuterie board. You can watch "Miss Juneteenth," a film for kids 14+, or the "Black-ish" episode titled "Juneteenth." Ask your child how they feel after watching the films. Let them know it’s okay to ask questions and that you will do your best to answer honestly and without bias. Kids may have questions about slavery. You can explain that enslaved people had to do tough jobs—all day, every day—without being paid. Depending on their age, you can go into more detail about how they were disciplined if they didn’t work. 

I hope these ideas help you celebrate Juneteenth and have a wonderful time with your family.

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