What does freedom, joy, and care look like to you, your family and community?
This question and others framed our Bring the Cool! activities at Brooklyn Museum’s Honoring Juneteenth event on June 19, 2022. Over a hundred community members, ranging from children and caregivers to staff, volunteers and board members, participated in art making, community mapping, dance, our live reading corner and a sound bath meditation with Rena Anakwe.
June 19, 1865 marks the emancipation of Black Americans who were enslaved in Galveston, Texas, when they received news about the Emancipation Proclamation that had been declared two years prior. This document and the delayed announcement did not legally end slavery everywhere at the time, as the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery across the United States wasn’t ratified until December that year. “[The] date came to be known as ‘Juneteenth’ in the African American community, and has for generations remained a day of remembrance, joyous celebration, and hope: remembrance of the hardships and pain of enslavement; joyous celebration of survival; and hope for the opportunity and peace that freedom ought to bring” (Source: https://calendar.eji.org/racial-injustice/jun/19). Over a century later, Juneteenth offers an opportunity to honor and support the continuous and ongoing movement for Black lives and liberation.
Cool Culture’s scavenger hunt led families through activities centered on learning, healing, community care, and creativity. Children and caregivers joined Brooklyn Museum to make a collaborative, mixed-media Juneteenth quilt. Inspired by some of the museum’s permanent collection, participants used symbols, color and patterns to tell stories. For the community mapping project, family members conversed about their community assets, specifically sharing locations where they take care of their body, mind, and spirit. Using post-it notes on a map of the local neighborhood, some marked their favorite places to eat or where they went to school while others indicated sites of safety or special memories. During Rena Anakwe’s sound bath, she invited a few children to join her on stage for deep centering breaths and exploration of the instruments. At the reading corner, families pondered on themes of freedom, joy, and justice as they listened to stories being read aloud, including “Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper. We also hosted a book giveaway with multilingual books that reflect the experiences of our diverse communities.
We loved honoring Juneteenth with all of the families, board members, and volunteers who attended! We hope you’ll continue to reflect on what freedom means to you and how you can support yourself, your family, and your community in experiencing its joys.