Celebrating Juneteenth

Every year on June 19th, we commemorate what took place on this date in 1865. On this day, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free, two and half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, has been officially celebrated as early as 1866 by the African American communities recently freed from enslavement in Texas. The holiday quickly spread nationwide and has been commemorated annually by African Americans for over 150 years. Early celebrations included the singing of spirituals and prayer meetings. Into the 21st century, Juneteenth observances grew to include festivals with parades, food, musical performances, family reunions, and rallies to honor African American culture.

Over the month of June, Think Together staff will engage students in lessons about the importance of Juneteenth to our nation, the meaning behind the day, and will then apply their learning by holding celebrations!

What does that curriculum look like?

Think Together’s K-5th grade students will learn about what the Juneteenth flag symbolizes, decorate the Juneteenth flag, and wave it proudly! Our students will talk about the injustice done to enslaved people in Texas, whose message of emancipation was delayed for over two years. As the students wave their Juneteenth flag, they will be equipped to teach their family and friends about the importance of Freedom Day.

Our 6th-12th grade students take a deeper dive into learning about Juneteenth. After watching informative videos, staff and students answer a set of questions together. They ask, “Why are there two Independence Days?” “How does it make you feel that there were over 250,000 enslaved people that received the news that slaves were free 2 ½ years after it actually happened?” and “Why do you think it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate Juneteenth?”

For many staff and students, these are sensitive topics. Alongside learning about Juneteenth’s history, Think Together’s goal is to enhance each student’s ability to understand and manage their emotions. By mindfully monitoring our emotions, we can better move forward to create meaningful change in the world.

Think Together embraces daily curricula that center and celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for our students. To commemorate Juneteenth, students and staff at Think Together will encourage respectful dialogue, unlearn implicit bias, and educate ourselves on different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures. It is equally important to continue these conversations at home to facilitate a growth mindset and encourage continuous learning.

“When we talk about race, we honor our children and teens are as learners. A conversation with a caring adult allows children to feel safe and ask questions instead of drawing conclusions about race and racism based on implicit and explicit messaging from the world around them and their own limited knowledge. Reading is a powerful way to nurture a child’s sense of curiosity and build a foundation for having bigger conversations about race over time.”

– Smithsonian

Try the “Juneteenth Flag” Lesson for K-5th grade students.

Try the “What is Juneteenth?” Lesson for 6th-12th grade students.