Juneteenth: A Celebration of Black Freedom, Joy, and Resistance

This Sunday, June 19, marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day when the news of abolition finally reached enslaved Black people in Texas — a full two and a half years after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth is a day that honors and celebrates Black freedom and Black resistance. Last year, it was finally recognized as a federal holiday — a testament to decades of organizing from Black Texans like Opal Lee.1

This year, we invite our multiracial community of Jews and allies to join Juneteenth celebrations, read reflections, and explore resources created by Black Jews and Black Jewish-led organizations. Here are a number of ways you can honor Juneteenth this year in commitment to organizing for the full and complete freedom of Black people in the United States:

TONIGHT: Celebrate Juneteenth with a Kabbalat Shabbat — a musical service of freedom, joy, and liberation led by Jewish spiritual leaders of color.

Promotional poster with a red, black, and green heart on an orange background.  Text on the heart reads Juneteenth Kabbalat Shabbat.  To the left of the heart are the words \

Presented by Kol HaPanim and the Atlanta Jews of Color Council, this special Juneteenth service centers the voices of Black Jews and honors this 150-year-old holiday through a Jewish lens.

Join Rabbi Sandra Lawson, Dr. Koach Baruch Frazer, and Rabbi Josh Lesser TONIGHT, Friday, June 17 at 7PM ET for this joyous celebration — register now to catch the livestream (or attend in person if you’re in Atlanta).

This event is led by Jews of Color and open to everyone of all faiths and observance levels.


ALL WEEKEND: The Jews of Color Initiative has assembled a list of events, resources, and readings for Juneteenth 2022 that center Black Jewish experiences.

Text in yellow and white that reads Resource List Juneteenth Freedom Day 2022 on a green, black, red, and yellow background.

We invite you to visit their website and spend part of your time this Juneteenth reading reflections on the meaning of this holiday from Black Jews. Check it out.


Juneteenth has been celebrated as a holiday by the descendants of enslaved Black Texans for generations. As the holiday gains national recognition and observance, it’s important for us to learn from and center the narratives and lived experiences of Black Texans, descendants of enslaved Americans, and Black Jews in our communities.

Writing in Kveller in 2020, one year before Juneteenth became recognized as a federal holiday, Marcella White Campbell shared:

"If one of us is not free, none of us is free. If anyone’s humanity is called into question, that should shame all of us. Juneteenth is the day that all my Black ancestors were finally free, but that means it is also the day America became free, at least by law."

You can read the full piece on Be’chol Lashon’s website.

This Juneteenth, we recommit to the long struggle to dismantle white supremacy and build a country where all Black people are free, safe, and thriving.

In community,

The Bend the Arc team

 

Sources

1. NPR, One Woman's Decades-Long Fight To Make Juneteenth A U.S. Holiday