concept of Juneteenth freedom day march showing by close up protesting hands sign board .

Juneteenth is almost here and we’re celebrating all of the best. Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 and marks the freedom of the last slaves to be set free after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863. The document recognized that slaves would be considered free, but word did not travel fast in many Confederate states. Slaves in Texas would not be officially freed until soldiers arrived to order that the slaves be released. On June 19, soldiers let those in Texas know that the hundreds of thousands of enslaved Black people would officially be free.

In 2021, the holiday was officially recognized as a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. The holiday then became the latest federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law. Now, many people of all races celebrate the Juneteenth holiday with different parades, festivals, and more to honor the federal holiday. Many African Americans honor Juneteenth as another independence day as it dates back to many of their ancestors.

How Can You Celebrate Juneteenth?

This year, Juneteenth falls in the middle of the week, and although it is a federal holiday, not every job gets the day off. So, what does that mean? Just means we get to celebrate a little extra. Since I am a music person and this is a radio station, why not listen to some music that really honors the idea of Juneteenth? Freedom and embracing your Blackness. Check out my list of songs that are Juneteenth-approved!

  • Black National Anthem - Lift Every Voice and Sing

    I am sure this is one of the first songs you think of when you read that title. If not, then when you saw this song it should have clicked pretty well. The Black National Anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing has been one of those songs that you probably grew up hearing and singing. I can recall when my Nana used to randomly burst into this song when visiting her as a little girl and hearing the performances at our home church. It certainly did not take me long to finally get the words. One of the best live performances of this song I have seen was the queen herself, Beyonce, performing at Coachella. There are so many renditions of the song and you can probably find many of your favorite singers performing it at some point in their career. 

  • I Am Not My Hair - India Arie

    India Arie released her infamous song, I Am Not My Hair, in 2005. The song emphasizes the point that beauty does not come from a specific type and style of hair. Beauty is manifested from within. I Am Not My Hair is supposed to emphasize the overall beauty of black hair and how in any form, it is beautiful. I grew up listening to this song often to help emphasize that the standard of beauty to some is not the overall beauty of all. Black is beautiful in many shades, different hairstyles, and so much more.

  • Say it Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud - James Brown

    This one is truly one of those classics! James Brown’s classic hit, Say it Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud, was released in 1968. The song is not meant for people to say Black people are better, but during a time where being Black was a lot he wanted the community to stick together and be proud of their Blackness and where they come from. This was occurring during the Black is Beautiful movement and later became the unofficial anthem for the Black Power movement. 

  • U.N.I.T.Y - Queen Latifah

    Another one of those favorites that many of us grew up listening to and knowing is Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y. The song was released in 1993 and was on her Black Reign album. The song is meant to honor and uplift black women, emphasize their power, and demand respect as a black woman overall. Not only should black women unite, but they should also be respected by other Black men and show unity throughout the race overall.

  • Black Man - Stevie Wonder

    It’s not always the women we have to honor, so we made sure to add a song about our Black men as well. Stevie Wonder’s Black Man emphasizes the importance of Black men in American history and culture. Black men are a part of the history of our country and some of the reason for so much we’re able to do today and that should be celebrated everyday and not just on Juneteenth. Here is a song to honor our Black men.

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