Honoring Juneteenth

June 14, 2024

by Isabel-Kai Fisher

June 19, 1865, was the day that enslaved Black people living in Texas received the news that they were free by executive decree. This day became known as "Juneteenth" also "Freedom Day," "Emancipation Day," "Jubilee Day," "Juneteenth Independence Day," and "Black Independence Day." The news arrived in Galveston, Texas, 2 and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, as many slave owners deliberately withheld the news of this emancipation until the next harvest season was over. Celebration of Juneteenth gained popularity each year since 1865 but wasn't officially declared a federal holiday until President Joe Biden signed the bill passed by congress on June 17, 2021. 

The way many Americans celebrate holidays is to commodify and consume, but it is important to be mindful not to misappropriate Juneteenth. This is a day of honoring collective trauma, validation, empowerment, sharing in cultural identity and pride, healing, emotional well-being, education, and awareness. Many Black Americans celebrate by sharing in community and meals, as well as participating in parades and festivals. Honoring Juneteenth is for everyone, and learning about Black people's history, culture, and the Black experience in America is a great way to support Black mental health by amplifying voices that are routinely marginalized. Dr. Karida Brown, a sociology professor at Emory University whose research focuses on race suggests to “have that full human experience of seeing yourself in and through the eyes of others, even if that’s not your own lived experience."

Although we have made progress, we still have a ways to go in terms of addressing the discrimination, racism, and stigma that the Black community faces in this country. When Black people seek help, one study found that "physicians were 23 percent more verbally dominant and engaged in 33 percent less patient-centered communication with Black patients than with White patients." Misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis of mental illness in Black people is perpetuated by factors such as lack of cultural humility among providers, stigma of mental illness in the Black community, and language and cultural differences between patients and providers. Check out the New England MHTTC’s product Embracing Authenticity: A Guide to Authenticity and Cultural Awareness at Workcomprehensive guide designed to support BIPOC employees, allies, and leadership in fostering a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment.

Some ways to celebrate Juneteenth and support the continued liberation of Black people include:

  • Spread the history of Juneteenth!
  • Seek out books, educational opportunities, movies, and social events to learn more about race in America and how to support equitable access to culturally responsive mental health care
  • Distribute your financial resources with Black people in your community
  • Support Black organizations and Black-owned businesses
  • Ask leaders to talk about the significance of Juneteenth


Juneteenth: Freedom is a Work in Progress - NAMI

During BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, The Trevor Project will be highlighting the importance of providing culturally responsive mental health care and telling stories of how BIPOC individuals advocate for their own mental health. 

How to support a Black LGBTQ+ young person’s mental health, and how anti-Black violence and anti-LGBTQ legislation impacts Black LGBTQ+ young people.

Juneteenth: Fact Sheet - Congressional Research Service

What is Juneteenth? - Young Women Empowered

Juneteenth is an Opportunity to Support Black Mental Health - Forge Health

The Vital Connection Between Juneteenth and Mental Health - Children's Place Association

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