Posted on: June 13th, 2024

Juneteenth…Celebrating Freedom and Encouraging Change


When Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, became the 11th Federal US holiday, the first to obtain legal observance since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many were not sure what this day was; for some, the question still remains. 

So what is Juneteenth?  Juneteenth, a blend of “June” and “nineteenth,” marks a pivotal moment in American history –  the end of slavery for ALL slaves. Now, you may be thinking how can that be when the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery throughout the United States, was signed in 1863. 

The truth is it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans—over TWO YEARS  after the Emancipation Proclamation was set in motion, that more than 250,000 enslaved black people in Texas learned they were free. This day became known as “Juneteenth.”

Today, Juneteenth’s significance extends beyond historical remembrance. It’s become a day of reflection, celebration, and education. It’s a vibrant celebration of resilience, identity, and the enduring journey toward equality and equity. Additionally, it plays a critical role in the mental health landscape, particularly within the Black community.

Celebrating Juneteenth offers unique opportunities for promoting mental health and well-being within the Black community. Juneteenth community celebrations are a way to honor the struggles and achievements of Black ancestors’, providing a sense of pride and validation for the black community, as well as, an opportunity for Black Americans to embrace culture and identity. These celebrations bring people together and foster the development of support networks that influence emotional resilience. 

In the mental health field, there has been a growing recognition of the importance and necessity for culturally competent mental health care, which has given root to an increased awareness of the significance of a client’s cultural background and experiences, and utilization of approaches that acknowledge the impact of historical and racial trauma to provide more effective care; the development of community programs that provide mental education, support and resources tailored to the Black communities. 

For me, Juneteenth is a day of remembrance of the sacrifices my ancestors made and the struggles they endured that have afforded me the opportunities I have today. It is a day of celebration of pride in my culture, in our strength, and in our resilience. It is also a reminder of how far we still have to grow as a country, so in that it represents hope in the coming together of communities in support of the freedom, equality, visibility, and equity of care for everyone. 

By embracing the spirit of Juneteenth, we can all contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society, where mental health and well-being are prioritized for everyone.

Although Juneteenth is only celebrated once a year, I encourage you to take the spirit of Juneteenth with you each day – in your conversations, decisions, and understanding of others – because the continued progress requires ongoing conversations that happen year-round. 

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~ Barack Obama

How can you celebrate Juneteenth and support mental health initiatives? Here are a few ideas:

Participate in Events: Search community social media pages or contact local park districts and community centers for Juneteenth celebrations in your area. Join the celebrations whether through parades, festivals, or educational events that center Black Americans.

Learn and Reflect: Educate yourself on the history and significance of Juneteenth by reading books or watching educational programs by black influencers. This can deepen understanding and empathy; remembering the ongoing history of slavery and oppression, and reflecting on the ongoing struggle for equality encourages a commitment to social justice.

Support Mental Health: Advocating for mental health equity and supporting mental health resources for the Black community is essential. Donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness are impactful ways to contribute.

 “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” ~Angela Y. Davis

How will you celebrate Juneteenth? 


                        Flag Facts


The Arc: A new horizon, meaning fresh opportunities and promising futures for Black Americans

The Star: Not only is it a nod to the Lone Star State (where Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1865), but it also stands for the freedom of every Black American in all 50 states

The Burst: The outline surrounding the star is meant to reflect a nova— or new star—which represents a new beginning for all

 Juneteenth Flag, created by Ben Haith in 1997