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How to talk to your child or teen about Juneteenth





June 18, 2024

As we celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the effective end of slavery in the United States, it’s important to educate your child or teen about the history behind this historical day of freedom. It is also an important opportunity to discuss equality, racial injustice, oppression, and the importance of standing up for the equal rights of others as a family. 

To help you get the conversation started at home, the team at Bend has put together frequently asked questions so that you’ll have information and resources to help you move through these types of talks. 

Q: What is Juneteenth? 

A: Juneteenth is short for “June Nineteenth” and is a day to honor the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. 

Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, and it has long been celebrated in the Black community; this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans. The first Juneteenth celebration was held in 1866 in Texas where communities hosted cookouts, events, religious observances, dances, parades, and singing. 

Q: What happened on June 19th? 

A: The Civil War ended in April 1865, but the news didn’t reach Texas until two years later. When troops finally arrived to signal freedom to the state’s 250,000 slaves, celebrations broke out and Juneteenth was born. 

Q: What if I don’t know the answers to my child’s questions? 

A: As you explore these topics, your child is bound to ask questions you don’t know the answer to and that is okay! Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and use it as an opportunity to research and learn together. 

Be sure to encourage open, honest conversations within your family. Show up for your child by listening respectfully to what they have to say without interrupting, shaming, or judging them. Validate their experience and emotions and let them know that you’re proud of them for participating in such an important conversation. 

Q: How can we celebrate Juneteenth?

A: Juneteenth represents freedom, liberation, and equality. Consider creating your own family tradition surrounding this holiday. There are many different ways to celebrate, but here are a few ideas:

  • Many local organizations and towns host Juneteenth events like parades, festivals, concerts, and protests. You can connect with your community by attending and supporting celebrations in your area. 
  • You can support Black-owned businesses online or in your local community. 
  • Volunteer at a Black-led organization near you.

  • Educate your family on racial injustices, including the Black mental health crisis
  • Visit a museum or cultural center that honors Black historical figures and events. 
  • Learn about the history of Juneteenth through books (have a family read-a-thon!) and videos.

By opening up the conversation surrounding Juneteenth, you’re honoring an important part of history, educating your child on the importance of freedom for everyone, and ensuring that they can come to you anytime they have questions surrounding Juneteenth, racial justice, or any other important topics. 

These talks may bring up a lot of emotions, especially if your family has experienced racial injustice, so be sure to reach out to the team at Bend if you could use some extra support.

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