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by Pastor Rickie Bradshaw

June 14, 2023 

3 minute read

For generations, African Americans have celebrated and recognized the end of one of the darkest chapters in our country’s history. Today it is known as the second Declaration of Freedom.

The term Juneteenth is what the former African slaves would describe as the date they discovered they were Emancipated from slavery. Union officer Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to deliver General Order Number 3, which said:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

The slaves had already been freed two-and-a-half years earlier, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863. Slaveowners in Texas had decided not to inform their slaves of Abraham Lincoln’s war time Declaration of Emancipation, but they extended the period of exploiting the enslaved African Americans.

In 1866 the freed African Americans observed Juneteenth to recognize and celebrate the abolishment of slavery in the United States of America. The Juneteenth Holiday is now acknowledged as an American Federal Holiday!

Here are three ways you and your family can recognize and celebrate the Juneteenth holiday:

1. Attend a Juneteenth Parade or a Historically African American Church Service.

Run a quick search on Google, check local events Facebook pages for your area, or search “Juneteenth” on your city’s government website to find festivities near you that the whole family can enjoy.

If you’re looking for a historically African American church to visit, first you need to know the Black Church in the United States has been composed of seven denominations: 1) African Methodist Episcopal Church 2) African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 3) Christian Methodist Episcopal Church 4) Church of God in Christ 5) and three National Baptist Conventions which convene Black Baptist.

For more information on the religious affiliation of African Americans, tap here.

2. Have a Family Barbecue or Southern Fried Chicken Dinner

You can’t forget the macaroni & cheesemustard greens, and some juicy, red, cold watermelon. For dessert, it has to be peach cobbler! Be sure to check out my “Rickie approved” recipes that are linked!

Juneteenth celebrations would not be complete without Juneteenth red foods, especially red soda water. Red foods have a long-standing prominence to celebrate the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom. The color red represents the bloodshed by formerly enslaved Americans during their struggle for freedom. 

3. Pray This Prayer of Celebration:

Juneteenth Prayer by Karen Barber

Dear Lord, we pray this Juneteenth Prayer to celebrate the glorious day when African American enslaved people were freed. We honor the spirit of all enslaved people who toiled, hoped, prayed, and sang with unwavering faith for the day of freedom and jubilee. We hear the strong echoes of their faith as they sang of the determination of Jacob wrestling with the angel, of Daniel surviving in the lion’s den and of Moses leading God’s children to the promised land. Today they firmly stand with these biblical witnesses of faith as role models of strength and perseverance.

We thank you that you are Our Father who created all people of all ages and races as your beloved children. As the family of God, when one suffers, we all suffer and when one rejoices, we all rejoice. And so, we rejoice on this day of celebration, affirming our connection as brothers and sisters.

We recognize and celebrate the great contributions made to our culture and nation by African Americans in all fields of endeavor. We acknowledge all their accomplishments and especially those known to you that history has failed to record. We pray that you will help us continually discover how our lives have been enhanced and changed by African American scholars, artisans, workers, ministers, public servants, military leaders and musicians.

We affirm the dignity of each person to their rights of freedom and justice. We celebrate liberators, role models and religious leaders who have fought the good fight.

May their legacy never be forgotten. And may we be vigilant against the evils of oppression, prejudice, and exploitation so we may truly be the land of the free.

In Jesus Name, Amen.