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One of the most important days in American history is Juneteenth, commemorating enslaved people’s emancipation.

Juneteenth is short for June 19. It marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure all the slaves were freed. Two months after the Civil War ended and two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

And Juneteenth has been celebrated as the end of slavery since back then, with small and large events in communities across the country. There’s also an effort to make it a national holiday.

“Juneteenth is a time of joy, reflection, family, and education,” says writer Monique Kilgore. “Other names for this day include Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, and Cel-liberation Day. Many people have family cookouts, attend prayer services and educational events. Parades, pageants, and outdoor activities are held to honor African-American history.”

What can we all learn from this history? And how can you commemorate this day in your community? Think about the importance of liberation and equality, and see where your mind takes you.

It can be as simple as learning more about Juneteenth or preparing a meal of traditional dishes (with a healthy spin) since food has always been a big component of Juneteenth. Feasts usually include BBQ, soul food, and red desserts, fruits, and drinks. Monique has recipes on her site, including this one for Southern Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea.

Whatever you choose to do, this is such an important day to acknowledge.

Raise a glass to freedom, my friend!

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